Recently Nicki Minaj sought to return to her alma mater, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Art and Performing Arts, to give an inspirational talk to the students. The Principal denied her request. Nicki tweeted about her disappointment over not being allowed to speak at the school. She stated that the school had changed her life and she wanted to inspire he current students there.
Naturally a social media backlash began as people spoke out about whether or not qualified as an “appropriate role model” that she speak to students. This same so this cussing came up when P. Diddy was scheduled to speak at Howard University’s commencement ceremony (add to that he was given an honorary degree that day as well).
In true definition a role model is someone whose behavior, example, or success mirrors that to which others aspire. This means that a role model is not publicly elected not do they volunteer. They are those individuals who influence and inspire others through their own natural presence.
The problem is that we, as a society, have become so obnoxiously grandiose that we presume to be the authorities on everything. The power of social media has given a broader voice to those everyday citizens who twenty years ago may have never been heard. However, this access has deluded us into believing that just because we have an opinion it always matters concretely. I say this to say that while the public opinion (supposedly represented by the media) may have it’s opinions and thoughts on who should or should not be a role model, it really doesn’t make any difference. Individuals, people, and/or groups choose their role models and nothing anyone else has to say will change that.
To deny a celebrity the opportunity to speak directly to the population for whom they are a role model is controlling and counterproductive. I think this is especially true when it comes to Hip Hop artists because they often occupy a controversial and contradictory space in society (not that they can help it as reality is controversial and contradictory). Giving them an opportunity outside of their art to speak to their fans and supporters would allow them to add dimension and clarification to their messages that may be confusing to younger audiences. And if nothing else it will allow them to see their role models outside of the cameras and lights and assess them with greater understanding.
The point is that I get so sick of popular opinion seeking to control and dictate people’s behavior and thoughts. The strength of that choke hold is growing everyday through opinion, ideology, and legislation. Little battles such as this one is where we are losing the war. We are so tunnel visioned and opinionated that we miss the big picture. The more we allow institutions and systems to appraise our individual value, regulate our behavior and dictate the spaces in which we allowed to move, the more we become commodities and not citizens; prisoners and not people.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man