Time to reform the ‘Thug’ image of Hip Hop
By Jineea Butler, NNPA Columnist
One of my mentors asked me why I was so quiet and not making my voice heard in the streets protesting for justice. First, because, I Can’t Breathe. I am still in mourning over all these babies being gunned down by the people who are supposed to protect us. It goes back to what I have been saying all along is the Hip Hop’s Dilemma – the common distasteful physical, emotional and/or mental trauma people are experiencing when coming in contact with members of the Hip Hop community.
I am beginning to think that the Hip Hop Dilemma may need to be classified as a psychological disorder. This is a testament to the power of Hip Hop and its ability to generate transformative energy through the music and lifestyle so much so people could kill us.
The common factor in most of these situations is the victims are all young Black males who resemble a stereotype. In most cases, a Hip Hop stereotype. Hip Hop is not the cause but it’s the stimulus that is triggering these reactions. The images that are created around who and what a ‘thug” in the Black community looks like is drawn from the images usually associated with Hip Hop.
The old expression that “We all look alike” still applies today. How can someone who is ill- informed about the culture differentiate between someone who is doing crime and someone who is just dressing to make a statement? Let’s admit we both need to make some changes in how we roll.
We can clearly see when someone in our community is up to no good vs. someone who is getting jiggy with it. But can everybody else? If no one was doing any crime, and no one looked like and carried out criminal activities, then we couldn’t lose. But I think the part we don’t want to acknowledge is the element in our community that is giving these people the impression that their lives are in danger.
And that is the common denominator on how they are winning these cases.
The misunderstanding is White America thinks we are ignoring the crime that is going on in the streets and then raising hell about the officers who work to protect the community and ‘accidentally’ kill one of our children. They don’t understand why we don’t protest all Black lives lost with the same vigor we are protesting police killings. Their question to us is: Why aren’t you raising hell about the 50 people who got killed by their own people between the Eric Garner and Michael Brown verdicts? They lives matters, too.
To some in the Hip Hop community, the deaths of Eric and Big Mike are casualties of war – collateral damage – because they think we are living in a kill or be killed war zone. Their confusion over our lifestyles generates repressed feelings and these feelings are exploding and creating these situations. The argument from much of White America is yes we need to fix the police problem, but we also need to fix this Black-on-Black crime problem. And they are right.
They are using the law against us and we have to be smart and strategic about our moves. The pressing fear has lit a fire, now we are afraid of one another. If we got all this strength in numbers, it’s time to turn to our young men and women in our community and say enough is enough. Stop the killing so we have a leg to stand on when someone violates a fellow Citizen of Hip Hop. If we are going to hold everybody else accountable let’s attack the crime problem with the same vigor we are changing the criminal justice system. Let’s talk that tough talk to ourselves and stop the infighting, selfishness, backstabbing and killing.
We have a clear vision about what fairness in the criminal justice system should look like. Let’s also have a clear vision of education system. Let’s get our children up to speed to compete with the rest of America. It’s not enough to ask the police to be more understanding of our culture. We need to be more understanding of ours and others’ cultures and more vigilant protecting our children on all fronts. Don’t just tell me Black lives matter, show me.
People have lost respect for who we are as a people; they know our bark is bigger than our bite. People are not always reacting to our children out of pure racist behavior. Rather, they are reacting because of what they are being trained to think about us. Let’s use this momentum as a spring board for resurrection. Let’s plan new goals for our community.
Let’s look like we think, and let’s play like we win.