From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who supported my candidacy for Texas State Representative! To my friends who believed enough in my convictions to donate to the campaign, I cannot tell you how much you mean to me. For those who reposted and shared my posts on social media, helped me pass out flyers, or collected signatures with me in this Texas heat, I am forever indebted. To my son, who gave up weekends playing with his toys to knock on doors with his Pop, Daddy promises to make it up to you.
The very existence of human civilization is under threat and I found it my duty to get my crowd engaged in the fight to save it. Ignorance, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and racism have been leveraged to propel us towards a much warmer planet, where coastal cities will vanish, violent weather will cost us unfathomable sums, and we risk surviving as a species.
I knew I faced an unprecedented, uphill battle when I decided to run for office. Texas ranked dead last nationwide in voter turnout when I filed my paperwork. Of course that was no coincidence; the powers that be have worked hard to make sure citizens don’t vote. People here are more likely to name the Rockets’ starting five, the Texans’ secondary, or the Astros’ lineup, before being able to identify their state rep or senator.
But did I think I could win? I envisioned a scenario where my campaign went viral on social media, sparking record Millennial interest, and organically snowballing into something the media wanted to cover. However, I knew that would require tremendous time, effort, and resources.
As the campaign got underway, I quickly learned campaigning needs to be a candidate’s full time job. Juggling my responsibilities as a parent, an entrepreneur, and a consultant provided limited time to direct a campaign team, raise funds, and connect with constituents. Still, I tried.
Tasked with securing 500 signatures (only from those eligible voters who did not participate in the March primary), I fell a few signatures short. I take full responsibility for underestimating the thousands of people I would have to meet to secure enough signatures for ballot access. Falling short meant my name would not be listed on the ballot as an Independent. In late June I had to decide whether to pay $750 to continue the race as a Write-In candidate. With the odds of victory even more remote, I decided to stay in the race.
I stayed in the race because I considered why great men like Colin Kaepernick and J. Cole didn’t vote in 2016. I considered why W.E.B. DuBois declared “In 1956, I shall not go to the polls.” Malcolm X’s voice ran through my mind, “A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”
Just one candidate on the ballot, this was bigger than me, Demetrius Walker. Of course, with 2018 being the final year straight-party voting is allowed, a Write-In candidate had no shot. But… bringing anybody to the polls to weaponize their ballot was essential. With so much on the line, I had to keep people inspired to participate in the 2018 Midterm.
I believe I was successful. Hundreds of people DM’d me during the campaign to tell me they planned to vote, many of them for the first time. Although a multitude could not vote for me due to residency outside of Texas House District 138, I am proud to have sparked political engagement where there was formerly none.
The far west side of my district has been historically neglected by politicians, who’ve devoted their attention solely to the concerns of Spring Branch. Highway 6 and beyond saw few yard signs from the major party candidates. People were genuinely surprised that I cared about our voices being heard on this side of town.
I enjoyed seeing peoples’ eyes light up when I knocked on their doors and they said “Wow, you’re running for office?!” My response: “Yes, I’m running for office and I’m a regular person just like you.”
So again, thank you to those who were inspired to become politically active in 2018. Thank you for your votes and dedication to making our district, our city, our state, our country, and our world a better place. Obviously, there is still work to do. I hope you will remain inspired to fight for what is right moving forward. Our planet needs you.
Growing up, the excitement I gained from public speaking gave me grand visions of the future. My grandmother, who immigrated from Panama in 1962, fashioned I would make a good preacher some day. But I liked to debate too much. Especially with my grandfather, a political junkie who challenged me and continues to challenge me on my views. Convinced I had ideas that could change the world and make my grandfather proud, I decided at fourteen I would one day run for office.
Yet, as time went on and political scandals, corruption, and bickering made me question my faith in our leaders, I repeatedly fell in and out of love with politics. I figured I could have a more positive impact on society as a public speaker, business owner, and author. I’d let the politicians politic, while I concentrated my efforts on things I could actually change. I concluded Texas was too much of a big, red state for me to impact politically.
In the past eighteen months, I’ve watched neo-fascism become mainstream. I’ve watched politicians suppress Black and Latino votes. I’ve watched women fight for their voices to be heard. I’ve watched the bullying of the LGBTQ community.
On top of that, I’ve watched one of my best friends narrowly escape the Tax Day flood. Another was airlifted with his wife and kids from the roof of his home during Hurricane Harvey. At Clay Road and Highway 6, many of my favorite businesses and restaurants remain closed.
While these issues seem like products of Washington’s incompetence, each of these problems have local roots. In my district, 138, a district that is 60% Black and Latino, the incumbent state representative proudly boasts of “co-authoring the state’s Voter ID law.” Since Reconstruction, Voter ID laws have been used to suppress the votes of people of color. After Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, (which banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family, marital, and military status), the incumbent led the charge to repeal the ordinance. Additionally, the incumbent has co-authored legislation that has no scientific merit and only serves to emotionally traumatize women after they’ve made the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy.
I can no longer sit idle as my district, in the most diverse city in America, is represented by someone who does not share our interests. I will not allow him to skate into office again.
I want to make my district, my city, my state, my country the most unified and progressive place to live in the world. I also want to make it the safest place to live. I want to protect it from catastrophic flooding by legalizing marijuana and using the tax revenue to improve our flood infrastructure. Texas is big on freedom; there’s no reason the federal or state government should prevent citizens from using marijuana medicinally or recreationally. Legalizing marijuana will create businesses, jobs, and much needed revenue. It will also make our neighborhoods safer by taking money out the hands of drug cartels and eliminating drug dealers in our children’s schools.
So……. A lot is at stake on November 6, 2018. I want to be the next District 138 State Representative because I know Texas can do better. I need your support. I need your help in mobilizing the masses. I need your vote. Please join me in this fight!
Thanks to Brand Nubian’s Lord Jamar, the #bookphonechallenge is a thing… a very welcomed thing in 2017. While I spent hours committing random facts to memory from World Book Encyclopedia, truth be told, I didn’t read enough books for pleasure growing up. Outside of Outbreak and The Coming Plague, I read The Source and XXL, before transitioning to an assortment of websites to feed my information addiction. Most of the books I read were dry, meaningless, and assigned reading for school. Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights did little to stoke my intellectual curiosity as a young, Black, adolescent growing up in New York City.
As an adult, the critical need to consume books has never been more apparent. I regret not realizing sooner the importance of feeding my brain’s insatiable desire to be challenged by new ideas. Growing is impossible without exposure to alternate perspectives from which to gain insight.
While I still find it difficult to sit down somewhere quiet, nerd out, and thumb through the pages of a book, (unless I’m on a plane trying to justify my need to utilize both armrests), the good news is audiobooks are dope. Let’s be real, after a day of concentrating efforts on income generation and trying to prevent your five-year-old from bungee jumping off the refrigerator, our eyes are tired. Audiobooks remind us we live in the future and other people can read us the information we don’t have time to read at our own convenience. In a city like Houston where every drive you make is a minimum of thirty minutes, there’s plenty of time to feed your grey matter. Admit it, the radio plays the same ish for six months at a time and you’re sick of it anyway… Might as well learn you something instead. The wisdom I’ve accumulated in the past eleven months can mostly be attributed to an assortment of books I’d love to share with you. In order from least to most recent here they go:
If you’ve picked up your copy of I Am A Black Man: The Evolution of a Dangerous Negro you’ve probably noticed each chapter begins with a verse from a different artist. All of these songs define a certain era in my life. My ups and downs, as well as periods of confusion, reflection, and self motivation are captured in these selections. I feel they best represent my journey and growth as a human being. Take a listen and get a glimpse of what was floating around in my mind as I wrote every chapter of my memoir…
It’s 4:44 Am and the snooze button has been broken from being pounded too many times. Eyes open in the darkness, Black men are staring at our ceilings putting the pieces of our hearts together. Maybe Ghostface was the first to get it lit with his introspective, relationship rant records. And then maybe Drake took it a step further with his Drakiness. Maybe This Is Us currently has us in our feelings. Whatever it took, we should be excited about the arrival of “The Black Male Emotional Awakening.”
Without question, sports, media, entertainment, and Hip Hop inform the dominant swag of the Black community. Considering such, recent biographies by Kevin Hart and Charlamagne The God, paired with the admired wokeness of Colin Kaepernick, and wisdom of Hov, indicate a paradigm shift in the emotional alertness of Black men.We’re finally confronting our Dads’ Daddy issues and the trickle down effect they’ve had on us. The infidelities, the emotional voids, the disappointments – they’re finally open for discussion.
In I Can’t Make This Up, Kevin Hart recalls his father’s indiscretions, substance abuse, and inability to accept responsibility for his destructive behavior. Believing our big, swinging sex organs will solve all our problems leads to frequent failures and setbacks. Though the book is hilarious, (I recommend the Audible version for added hysterics), it’s amazing to see how his father’s faults play into Hart’s adult decision making.
Similarly, with full candor, Charlamagne reveals how he went from being a gifted and talented nerd to sharing a jail cell with his father in Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes To Those Who Create It. Products of the cocaine 80s, many of us can relate to the pitfalls that ensnared us, our fathers, family, and friends. Only now are we analyzing what it took to overcome those obstacles, lead productive lives, and stop hurting the people who love us the most.
We’re finding ourselves.
Historically we’ve dedicated massive amounts of energy to the professional sports that celebrate our physical prowess, yet do little to advance our collective uplift. Colin Kaepernick changed all of that by taking a knee. Suddenly I don’t care about the NFL, which has blackballed Brother Kaepernick for drawing attention to racial injustice. In A Bronx Tale, Sunny tells C, “Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. Why should you care about him? Nobody cares.” Black men are finally starting to realize the NFL and NBA, don’t care about us, no matter how many millions they shower on us to piss away in the breeze of an average sports career. Colin Kaepernick has travelled back to Africa to reconnect with our ancestral roots and find purpose amidst the massive illusion we’ve been sold in America. We’re ready to give up our sports worship to preserve our dignity.
Not only are we sick of being tricked into subservience, we’re sick of tricking off our money too. A decade ago Hov made us stop wearing jerseys in favor of button ups. Today he’s telling us to put the money phones down and invest in assets. And it’s connecting. That’s what happens when people reach emotional maturity. Rational, practical decision making replaces foolishness.
Overcoming emotional immaturity has even allowed us to begin dismantling homophobia. If you would have told me at any point in the last two decades Jay Z would be a gay rights advocate I might have laughed. Yet here we are in 2017 and it only seems logical. On “Smile,” the third track on his latest album, Jay raps:
One of the most notable characteristics of emotional immaturity is the inability to accept other peoples’ differences. For far too long Hip Hop embraced toxic masculinity, which celebrated misogyny and championed homophobic rhetoric. I’m guilty one hundred times over. Soul searching brings us into agreement with Jay who highlights his own flawed thinking on women and gay people. Our families and lives are incomplete without them; it’s about time we see them as equal human beings worthy of our full respect, support, and admiration.
I know what Sistas are thinking right now: “We’ve been telling you this for years!” Yes, you have and your patience is appreciated. We can’t thank you enough for making us take A Seat At The Table to drink Lemonade. Black women have been reading books, gaining insight, and finding ways to heal and improve, while us Negroes have been debating top ten emcee lists into our mid-thirties. You’ve been traveling the world, collecting hella stamps on your passports without us. Sistas got book clubs, and running groups, and fitness bootcamps to heal mind, body, and spirit. You’ve been going to college and graduate school at much higher rates, making guap, starting businesses, and holdin’ us down. Meanwhile we’ve been stuck in a box of emotional immaturity grappling with our daddy issues, making bad decisions, and breaking your hearts.
But we’re coming out of the fog.
We’re talking, rapping, and writing about our emotional growth. Certainly that was my motivation for putting out I Am A Black Man: The Evolution Of A Dangerous Negro. Having our third eye open isn’t enough. Opening our hearts to get on one accord, heal the Black community, and liberate ourselves from economic oppression is essential. Only then will we be able to neutralize White Supremacy. So Black man, continue to get those feelings off your chest so we can turn our attention to being productive. It’s now 4:45 and we can’t afford to go back to sleep.
Amazon currently ranks I Am A Black Man #23 in their Biographies>Rap subheading. Not bad considering the book was just released a few days ago! Before a new album drops rappers usually tease their projects by disclosing their tracklist. I Am A Black Man the audiobook is coming soon, so I figured why not go ahead and drop mine?
Let me start off by thanking everyone for their patience over the last eighteen months. Writing a book while trying to be an engaged parent has to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. My text messages have been short, phone calls rare, and Facebook posts infrequent. Many nights, I skipped sleep to reword sentences, restructure paragraphs, and question whether I was skilled enough to complete this task.
My need to get this book out of my system was overwhelming. It picked at my brain, haunted, taunted, and distracted me from focusing my attention elsewhere. I’ll never know what it feels like to be nine months pregnant, but I think I have a good idea. This baby grew to take up massive amounts of internal real estate, slowing my free motion, while kicking me in the gut from the inside. Any media I consumed reminded me I was eating for two: my personal growth and the health of this book. One audiobook and one documentary a week have comprised my diet. I boycotted the NBA, stayed off Yahoo News (as much as I could), and skipped television. Still, sacrificing those things wasn’t as painful as not dedicating my full attention to music. I’m a DJ… I needed to get this baby out of my belly!
I’m happy to announce I Am A Black Man: The Evolution of a Dangerous Negro is finally here. Well, sort of. Pre-orders begin today, with shipping beginning the first week of July. For those that pre-order the book, I will autograph your copy before it is mailed out. Maybe, just maybe, my sloppy signature will add value to your purchase someday 🙂
Though I’m just one Black man, I hope this book will give people new insight on what it’s like to dance with America’s upper and lower crust. More importantly, I hope it will help people to heal, as I have found healing in completing this project. Thank you in advance for your support. I can’t wait to hear your feedback.
I Love You All,
PS – You can pre-order ORDER your copy of the book by clicking HERE!
Literally. Prince was the complete human experience in one package. He was yin and yang, fire and ice, gin and juice, diamonds and pearls. Had he lived longer to see us contact alien civilizations, I would have voted for The Purple One to be sent into space as our global ambassador. In the history of the world who else has seamlessly embodied mankind’s greatest traits, contradictions, and emotions?
Before scriptures were translated into other languages, God, or Elohim, was genderless. Now go get your Old Testament and swap out Elohim for and tell me you don’t gain a greater respect for The Artist. The closest thing we have in the English language to help us wrap our head around this concept is the word androgynous; and it would be just that, a word, had Prince not given us the prototypical living example. On the real, Prince transcended gender identity; Prince was hyper masculine and uber feminine at the same damn time. He had the dopest facial hair and hairdos simultaneously. His voice was baritone, yet he sang soprano like a champ. He was hairier than Chewbacca yet, he wore eyeliner. And it worked. Prince was the only dude that could pair a butt out pantsuit with high heel shoes and still have women (and some men) fawning over him left and right. Nobody will ever be able to pull that off again!
But this isn’t just about Prince exhibiting the best of both genders. It’s much more than that. Like I said, Prince was EVERYTHING. Go revisit the 1989 Batman soundtrack. Prince was Bruce Wayne and the Joker for a whole album. In fact, on that album and all his other albums, you can’t even put a genre on the projects. Prince was Rock, Funk, Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B… man, even EDM before EDM was known as EDM. Prince played damn near every instrument; he transcended genres!
In fact, Prince transcended music altogether. While the world knew Prince, the entertainer, we’re just starting to learn about Prince, the humanitarian. I watched Van Jones break down while describing how Prince funded grassroots movements and disaster relief through his concerts. That just goes to show that despite how famous he was, Prince was in large part unknown. With perpetual pressure to be what society expects us to be – prudent, straight, and predictable, Prince was eccentric, eclectic, and nonconforming. More than anything, Prince was himself. Thus, the biggest lesson to be learned from his existence is: do you. And that right there is the key to EVERYTHING.
Yesterday evening, as I watched Hunter beam with excitement while racking up tickets at Chuck E. Cheese, I couldn’t help but to feel concern for the mental state of my pet, Dominoe. The video game music and kid commotion weren’t loud enough to obscure the powerful thunder rattling the arcade’s windows around 8PM. From having to repair my fence fiftyleven times, it was clear this was the type of weather capable of spooking Dominoe into charging through double sided cedar to escape the backyard. I was in no mood to return to Home Depot yet again as a consequence of my dog’s seemingly irrational fear of storms. So once Hunter finally settled on a slinky for his hard earned tickets, it was out into the elements to try to ward off Dominoe’s inevitable El Chapo caper.
Luckily, I made it home before the worst of the flooding that sunk Northwest Harris County. After whistling from my backdoor, I was relieved to see Dominoe, Paris, and Cud Kitty all emerge from the larger of the two dog houses in my yard. I kissed all their noses and fetched a towel to dry them off. As Paris and Cud Kitty plopped down on the living room floor, Dominoe continued to pace the house looking for a safe place to hide from Mother Nature’s threatening demeanor. He finally settled right next to me on the couch and dropped his head in my lap. At eighty pounds, Dominoe is well aware he is no longer a lap dog; however, he puppy eyed me into submission. He then nudged my right arm with his snout to encourage me to comfort him. I noticed he was trembling with anxiety.
Now, this is the very same dog who puts the fear of God into any living thing that unsuspectingly approaches my fence. Yet, for the last ten years I’ve struggled to understand why Dominoe is so perplexingly frightened by something as common as thunder and lightening. I felt his ancient ancestors would be ashamed to see how far their canine descendent had fallen from his natural place in the wild. I’m guilty of pup shaming him: “C’mon Dominoe, you can’t be scared of the weather, you’re a dog!”
But last night, as I ran my fingernails through his coat, I played a game with myself – how would I view the universe from Dominoe’s perspective? I’ve known Dominoe since he was in his mother, Cheecago’s, womb. I authorized Cheecago’s life saving cesarian when Dominoe’s colossal head clogged up her birth canal. When he finally opened his eyes after two weeks of suckling, I was the first human he saw. If anyone was qualified to psychoanalyze Dominoe, it was me. So I walked through his formative years in my mind to see if I could find a moment that could explain his wimpy storm behavior.
And then it finally dawned on me; there was a critical night back when Dominoe was a year old that I was absent. My clothing line, dangerousNEGRO, was just getting off the ground, so my partners and I decided to rent a booth at the Indianapolis Black Expo. At the time, I was dating a TSU girl with roots in Dayton, Ohio, just a ninety minute drive from Nap. She mentioned her grandmother would love to have the dogs frolic in her backyard while I was in Indianapolis slangin’ t-shirts. Seizing the convenience of free dog care, I dropped Cheecago and her puppy Dominoe off at Grandma Linda’s before heading to Indy (I had originally given Paris to one of my fraternity brothers in Chattanooga, so she was not present).
Sixteen hours later, I received a frantic call from Grandma Linda explaining that she had called the dogs to come inside after hearing thunder from an approaching storm. Dominoe answered her call, but surprisingly, Cheecago was nowhere to be found. This was highly unusual because 1) Cheecago and Dominoe were practically inseparable, never going beyond eyesight of each other 2) Cheecago never showed interest in running away and 3) there were no visible holes in the chain linked fence from which Cheecago, a stubby, overweight, brindle pit could escape. I hightailed it back to Ohio, and while en route, I received a call from the Trotwood Police Department. Cheecago had been found… dead… two miles from Grandma Linda’s house. I showed up to the scene with my girlfriend’s father and Dominoe. Cheecago lay on the sidewalk, mortally wounded. It was unclear how Cheecago had met her demise; her chest was blown open from what appeared to be a shotgun wound. The police said there were no reports of a driver hitting her and there was no blood trail in the street to indicate that was the case. I called my mom to break the news and she thought it would be best for Dominoe to see Cheecago one last time for closure. (Yes, that may sound crazy to non dog owners, however, from previous experience we knew how difficult it was to have a dog grieve over a loved one that mysteriously never came home after “taking a ride to the vet”). I let Dominoe out of the car to show him that his mother was deceased. He wimpered and howled in despair… loudly.
Psychology Today recently published an article titled “Unconscious Memories Hide in the Brain But Can Be Retrieved.” In the article, researchers revealed that “inadvertent or unexpected stimuli linked to the state-dependent memory can trigger acute flashbacks that are often the hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” This is the case for people as well as animals. Traumatic events create neurological pathways and synaptic bridges that affect the decision making of rats, humans, and everything in between. So it is not far fetched to conclude that Dominoe associates thunder with the frightening moment that precipitated his mother’s death. It was the worst night of his life.
Now consider your own traumatic memories. Whether you realize it or not, they play a role in your current decision making. Dominoe has a max IQ of 8; traumatic memories manifest in much more complex ways in humans. Take that into consideration before shaming yourself and others for actions that seem unreasonable. Don’t be afraid to see a professional or encourage others to do so. I tried it simply as a formality for a lawsuit I considered filing against HPD (they negligently fired a bullet into my kitchen eight years ago… trying to shoot a dog). Surprisingly, I discovered more about myself than I ever would have imagined. I came away from the experience feeling like I could conquer the world. So, keep it real with yourself; mental health is as critical as physical health. Please don’t be afraid to weather your storm.
As far back as I can remember, there has been a war on Hip Hop. Vivid flashbacks of Reverend Calvin Butts crusading against “negative rap” from the seat of a steamroller come to mind. Tupac’s disdain for C. Delores Tucker and her vocal criticism of Hip Hop’s violence and misogyny stand out. Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew fighting for their First Amendment right to be “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” at the Supreme Court is similarly memorable. Fast forwarding to more recent times, Hip Hop continues to be demonized as “the Gospel of Self-Destruction.” Bill O’Reilly even goes as far as pinning the decline of American religious affiliation on rap music’s control over our nation’s youth. (Yes, really). Despite the last thirty years of Black leaders, preachers, politicians, and pundits hymning and hawing about Hip Hop’s chokehold on Black cultural expression, what has actually been accomplished besides youth resentment and elder alienation? I argue nothing at all.
Hip Hop is afflicted by Preacher’s Kid Syndrome. Since its inception it’s been asked to live beyond reproach; prior generations have pleaded with Hip Hop not to make a mockery of Black culture. “Fix your grammar… don’t talk like that… don’t dress like that… pull your damn pants up… you’re making us all look bad!” Yet people tend to forget that Hip Hop was born in a ghetto and continues to live in the ghetto. Asking Hip Hop artists to focus solely on social uplift is as impractical as expecting the preacher’s kid not to wild out as soon as they leave home for college. As the repressed preacher’s kid, Hip Hop is going to party hard, drink, do drugs, and be promiscuous. To the top of its lungs, it’s going to shout the N-word and all the profanities it’s been told are unacceptable to mainstream society. And when Daddy calls campus to demand that Hip Hop tone it down, it’s going to start ignoring those calls and turn up even more. Hip Hop is that college roommate that goes to every party, takes every test high, inexplicably graduates magna cum laude, then gets tapped by Corporate America to generate record profits. The preacher has to settle for a measly Mercedes while Hip Hop wakes up in a new Bugatti.
In response, Hip Hop is told that it’s selling out the Black race. Its thuggery and highlighting of fiscal irresponsibility have been blamed for high incarceration rates, and subsequently the decimation of Black upward mobility. Point blank, leaders tell us Hip Hop is holding the Black community back. Now… are there thugs making Hip Hop music and spreading delusions of grandeur? Yes, of course! Here are a few of my favorite:
Along with millions of listeners from all walks of life, I enjoy their music. For Black youth, it’s the soundtrack to eudaemonia, the embodiment of the African American dream. High school dropouts, undergrads, MBAs, and PhD scholars alike find motivation in the profanity ridden tales of ghetto greatness. I know because they are my friends. Hip Hop never prevented us from attaining success; it inspired us to work hard and invest in ourselves so we could one day live in mansions, bathing in jacuzzis full of Dom. As a person that grew up listening to the hardest of hard core Hip Hop, I was never motivated to commit felonies, disrespect women, or blow all my cash chasing unattainable fantasies. The people I know who did all that stuff struggled with other household problems that would have manifested in trouble regardless of their choice of music. Saying Hip Hop systemically programs Black youth for nihilism, prison, and economic catastrophe is an insult to our collective intelligence.
But this isn’t about feelings, it’s about reality. The facts simply do not support the notion of Hip Hop being a cancer to the Black community. Keith Humphreys of The Washington Post recently dropped an article titled “There’s Been a Big Decline in the Black Incarceration Rate, and Almost Nobody’s Paying Attention.” Considering how detrimental leaders, lawmakers, and the media believe Hip Hop to be as a contributor to Black criminality, how could this be true? Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Humphreys notes that “since 2000, the imprisonment rate among African-American women has dropped 47 percent, while the rate among white women has risen by 56 percent.” In addition, “the rate of imprisonment among African-American men remains very high, but nonetheless it has tumbled 22 percent since 2000.” This all comes at a time when “Spotify has analyzed 20 billion tracks and has come to the conclusion that hip-hop is the most listened to genre in the world” (as reported by Angel Diaz for Complex July 14, 2015). Could it be that public policy and NOT Hip Hop has had the greatest effect on whether or not Black youth end up in prison? Certainly appears that way.
But what about money? All that champagne popping, strip club raining, rim buying, fashion fanaticism, and jewelry dripping are what we’re told is keeping us from competing with other ethnic groups. Yet, NYU Professor Patrick Sharkey studied “Neighborhoods and The Black-White Mobility Gap”prior to and after the advent of of Hip Hop. The report concludes:
In the United States, living in a poor neighborhood often means living in an environment that is unhealthy and violent, and may offer relatively poor learning opportunities and economic opportunities. The troubling news from this report is
that inequality in our neighborhoods may be contributing to the persistence of racial differences in economic mobility. The hopeful news is that investments in neighborhoods that reduce the concentration of poverty could have powerful effects on the economic trajectories of children living within the most disadvantaged communities.
So is it Hip Hop holding us back or rather systemic wealth inequality? In the famous words of James Carville “it’s the economy stupid!” Take a look at this chart:
With Hip Hop not emerging until the mid 70s, the rate of Blacks living in high poverty neighborhoods is virtually identical when comparing pre versus post Hip Hop. Subscribing to Hip Hop culture can’t be blamed for creating an environment of perpetual poverty in predominately Black neighborhoods. That’s because government sanctioned policies like redlining and Jim Crow show a direct impact. Blacks have historically and currently continue to be locked out of the wealth creation cycle home ownership provides. For instance, Emily Badger of The Washington Post reported in the past year “the Department of Housing and Urban Development settled with the largest bank headquartered in Wisconsin over claims that it discriminated from 2008-2010 against black and Hispanic borrowers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.” Certainly, racist policies like redlining create problems for Black communities Hip Hop can describe, but never spawn.
Furthermore, with education being a major key to upward mobility, it’s obvious what kind of long term impact Jim Crow has had on Black plight. Deplorable education was the most severe consequence, as Black schools received significantly less funding and attention in comparison to White schools. [Cues Onyx] But, but wait it gets worse! After Hip Hop swept America’s airwaves, the Prison Industrial Complex arose to punish and profit from the actions of the very same youths it confined to ghettoes with crappy education. But it’s somehow Hip Hop’s fault for brainwashing kids into being criminals? As mentioned previously, the Black incarceration rate is currently decreasing at the same time Hip Hop is being recognized as the world’s most popular music. It’s evident Hip Hop has been unfairly targeted as the source of Black youth dysfunction; the true blame rests squarely on the shoulders of American public policy. So why are we still being sold the lie that Black youth’s allegiance to Hip Hop is leading to the races’ demise? [Cues Cam’ron] This ain’t math class but this s**t ain’t adding up!
Numbers don’t lie. To the best of its ability, Marketing Research Incorporated has tracked Hip Hop buying trends by race. HipHopDX writer Omar Burgess reveals “if you put stock into the MRI data, you’re left juggling the fact that Hip Hop is by and large performed by black people selling product to an audience of mostly white people between the ages of 18 and 34.” Yet, White youth aren’t driven to destroy their communities by joining gangs and squandering their money. So why would Hip Hop lyrics have a disparate impact on Black American youth and not the youth of any other community worldwide? Obviously our country’s policing of Hip Hop has produced the disparate impact, not the content. Saying Black minds are somehow more impressionable than White, Asian, and other minds who opt in to Hip Hop culture is as absurd as it is offensive.
Knowing all of this, how dare anyone in America treat Hip Hop as a pariah. Hip Hop is the most uniquely American art form to ever emerge; it’s literally a reflection of hundreds of years of domestic policy. America has squeezed Black Americans into abject poverty, yet begs Black youth not to describe the conditions of their existence, nor glorify the mechanisms of their perceived escape? As fiercely as Americans cling to the Second Amendment, we must also support the First Amendment rights of Hip Hop artists. No matter how much you hate the lyrics and/or appearance of Young Thug, Tyler The Creator, Nicki Minaj, or Future, they’re owed the right to vocally and visually do what they please. Kanye West deserves the right to be as bat s**t crazy and vulgar as Ozzy Osbourne – censorship is an un-American quality.
Above and beyond everything else, Hip Hop, with all its perceived shortcomings, is fun; Black youth are owed the right to have fun. Some guy in a suit or a robe is not allowed to dictate the parameters of Black fun. That’d be like me telling Country music artists to stop singing about revenge, or better yet, asking Heavy Metal artists to tone down the devil worshipping. So, the next time somebody espouses some unquantifiable theory about Hip Hop degrading Black quality of life, cue Jay-Z and tell them “we don’t believe you, you need more people!”