I read an article on United Black America that dissected the war on Black culture. The article was full of good information and historical data and even made several points about the current state of Black culture. However, the message was hugely misguided for a number of reasons.
The biggest reason is because the entire argument stands on the premise that there is a culture war happening in which Black culture has been hijacked. For there to be a war, wouldn’t there have to be two opponents? Where Black culture is concerned, this would never be because now and historically Black culture has been cultivated by people who are not Black. Black people have rarely taken pride in our culture (not even when we participate). So the only thing warring on Black culture is Black people’s neglect of Black culture.
It’s no surprise that we have not and are not fighting for it. There’s no war. There’s merely the same thing that’s been happening for decades. Black culture is being appropriated and assimilated into the dominant culture because they are the ones who appreciate it. And if the opportunity arises we are all too ready to sell it to the highest bidder.
Take for example BET. Robert Johnson started BET with a $15,000 loan and a $500,000 investment. BET went on to become a major network and the first Black controlled business in the New York Stock Exchange. Are we seeing the cultural relevance here? And this monkey went and sold the network in 2003 for 3 billion. He even stayed on as President and CEO for 2 years before retiring. Where’s the fight in that? And what’s worse is once the people found out he sold the network to Viacom, they began to criticize the programming and complain about the portrayals of Black people, but did anyone stop watching?? Riiiight. So I don’t know that it was a conspiracy as much as it was White Americans (who made the game) playing the game. They saw the opportunity to make a lot of money with a target audience they would not have been able to attract and even got Uncle Remus to hang around the plantation telling takes until they had successfully acclimated their investment. Sounds like capitalism at its best, if anything.
The article also talked about music as a hijacked cultural vehicle. We all know rap music was created out of the Hip Hop movement that has been defining young Black culture for years. Well that’s easy. Take Jay-Z (one of the most successful rappers alive today) in his song, “Moment of Clarity,” he said it very plainly:
And the music I be making/I dumb down for my audience/And double my dollars/They criticize me for it/Yet they all yell “Holla”
The clearest example of what we think of the music we created as young Black people. It’s all about the benjamins, baby. Where’s the fight in that??
So while I’m all for the ‘call to arms’ that Asad is putting out there. And I agree on most of the points being made. What I’m Sayin is: that’s the wrong angle to come at this problem. There’s no war. There’s a lack if perceived value that only we have, ’cause clearly other races see the value in it (enough to want to possess it). But if we aren’t fighting for it, then, whose fault is that? We don’t need to try and create an external foe that must be fought. The enemy is right here in bed with us, as close as the nearest mirror.
I’m not Sayin; I’m just Sayin
An Angry Black Man