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Thursday, Jan 21, 2010
Where white kids are depressed, black kids are pathological, even when demonstrating the same behavior in a classroom. NPR's Tell Me More investigates why "Blacks, Latinos Less Likely Treated For Depression". Perhaps the facts of race explain insanity for many, and there's no treatment for that.

The facts of race in America too often mean that non-whites are crazy by definition. Non-whites have even had to prove that ‘race’ still impacts all of us today. One of the clearest examples of this is the pathbreaking American presidential race of 2008- the longest, most covered and most expensive campaigns to date. The real deal is why’d it cost so much for America to elect it’s first non-white president?


As a presidential candidate, for example, Barack Obama had to explain ‘race’ in an eloquent 37-minute speech, as if it were his (racial) responsibility. Recall that many folks could not connect with Obama’s main presidential rival because she never made clear how gender impacted her reality; she ‘pretended’ it was unimportant, and even ‘wore the pants’ until it was too late. If Hilary Clinton had early on made speeches like her concession speech, Americans might have responded to her very differently. I would imagine that many people of color in America have felt such pressure in their daily lives, and continue to deal with the stress of this pressure on their own. The denial of the impact of race is enough to send someone into a frenzy, but luckily there are now ample studies demonstrating racial disparities in all facets of American life. As an American voter, I would appreciate knowing how any candidate perceives race in America, as well as gender and class disparities. But the reality is that it took a crazy Negro candidate to lay that path in any meaningful way. Never has any politician spoken so clearly about the impact of historical social differences on the social disparities of today. Back to racialized insanity…


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Monday, Nov 16, 2009
“He’s the most influential rapper in the world. If anyone can change young black men’s attitudes about marriage, all fingers point to Hov,” charges Jozen Cummings on The Root.com, a candy store for the politicized hip-hop junkie.

Irreplaceable. That’s pretty much the length of commitment our music and lifestyle promotes. The mindset that people and relationships are disposable is the anti-thesis of marriage and commitment. Beyonce and Jay know that their public personae don’t match their private one, yet I, like Jozen Cummings at The Root.com, cannot forgive them for not being more conscious about their lyrics. They know the state of black America—they grew up with us—yet they still promote men as soldiers and providers, and the sexes as in complete competition, and opposition, with one another.


Of course, that Venus vs. Mars narrative cannot sustain a marriage, or any genuine relationship, including a solid friendship. Yet, friends and lovers, like a Louis or Fendi, are replaceable. It probably has not occurred to the hottest couple in music at all that they are empowered enough to not only shape their respective genres of music, but to move Black America—and therefore America—forward.


Jozen Cummings’s post on The Root.com was prompted by a recent study published by the Yale Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course, claiming that there were few marriageable men for black women, partially because black women were less likely than their racialized male counterparts to wed outside racial bounds. Still, anyone visiting a college canteen can see the ratio of black men to women. Luckily, patriarchal masculinity is not disrupted by this ratio, and in facts rewards men for “conquering all that pussy”, according to much commercial rap music, as well as big and small screens.


Moreover, “Women are penalized for waiting to get married, while men are rewarded for their patience,” exclaims Niambi Carter, PhD on NPR’s Tell Me More, who carried a conversation about the Yale study under the rubric “Black Women: Successful and Still Unmarried”. The study has caused waves.


Despite their riches, B. and Jay-Z are no more liberated, and therefore powerful, than they were as basic negroes on the grind. Jay-Z might feel that he has nothing genuine to offer; the dominant images of hip-hop—the materialism, violence, misogyny, and self-hatred—demonstrate that most have yet to decolonize their minds.


Jay-Z knows that he’s not irreplaceable. B. went from “Nasty, put some clothes on,” with her girls Kelly and Michelle, to a Sugar Mama swinging on a ho-pole, willing to pay a man for his services; “Damn, I wanna buy you a short set,” Beyonce says in her video and stage reproduction, sucking on a caner stick, laid out, out of breath. Neither seems to have comprehended their own potential impact. If their wealth were not so ephemeral, ethereal even, they wouldn’t need to brag about it. The same goes for stardom.


“It’s a lie,” says Madonna to fans during her Confessions concert tour, after singing a smashing, high-powered rendition of her hit “Jump”. “I can’t make it alone,” she repeats, sitting on stage, taking gulps from a bottle of water, contradicting the song’s refrain. Even above 50, the “Material Girl” is still the crowned queen of reinvention . Her album Ray of Light marks one of her most remarkable shifts. From then on, Madonna has remained fiercely critical of materialism, racism, homophobia, the perils of stardom, and especially hypocrisy in politics and morality.


Reincarnating her image has gained Madonna’s stardom the staying power of a Trojan—wood or rubber. If fame were not so short-lived and insubstantial, if fans and stars were not so caught up into reproducing stardom as an end in itself, then perhaps our popular culture would have more genuine artists—we would have more self-aware professional entertainers. Otherwise, pop stars just titillate—ass and tits, or pecs and six-packs—it’s all just diamonds and pearls to please the crowd.


The disconnect is that fans like us would like to believe that they actually are irreplaceable. And why should stars believe otherwise—we’re the same fans that turned our backs on Michael Jackson until it was too late. We treated him like he was replaceable until he was dead, and that’s far too late. Were rappers to value themselves rightly, fans would surely have a richer pool of positive, life-affirming images from which to chose and gain pleasure. Now, if we want a good beat, we simply settle for scraps and scrubs.


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Monday, Aug 24, 2009
Listening to ‘A Spirited Debate on Gay Marriage’ from the Michael Eric Dyson Show

Chocolate City Washington D.C. recently moved to recognize same-sex unions and marriages from any American state. “Heather has two mommies,” sounds ridiculous when chided from a Black Christian fundamentalist’s mouth. All the Black Heathers any of us know have two, maybe three mommies and several surrogate daddies. Collectivism is our way of life, distinct from clanism in Asian joint families, or even the guilds throughout Europe. Each culture is distinct and with unique merits. So, where have African-American Christians gone wrong? Why is it that Blacks have so often been co-opted into serving as the mouthpiece on the ‘rong side of modern day civil liberties and human rights?


“To be sanctified by a clergy person,” probes Dr. Dyson (who doubles as a clergyman), is the central issue around all civil unions. Moreover, no relationship can sustain itself by itself. Rather, relationships are sustained by concerted efforts; those that are communal are stronger.


Same-same but different, scream the proponents regarding the justice of legal and socio-religious consecration of same-gender unions. And evoking the extremities as Americans always do, we might ask, what of bestiality, pedophilia and polygamy? Or, why even collapse these few and add stigma?


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