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by Lavern Merriweather

With the ever growing excessive acts of violence happening in many black Chicago neighborhoods that are mostly targeting teens, many in the city, from parents to school officials to city leaders, are desperate to figure out a way to end the senseless killings and bring back peace to the city. So, at a loss many, especially those in the media, are turning to their favorite whipping boy anytime there are problems in the black community, rappers and their music.

Recently, a local TV station even did an ‘in-depth’ report about the effects rap music is having on black youth. (Wait a minute didn’t we have this discussion already?!! In fact we have been having it for the past 15 years while kids are still killing each other over Air Jordans and committing other acts of violence.) And the debate is always the same a bunch of high-minded, wealthy Negroes talking about the ills of a community they have (a.) never even been part of or (b.) once was a part of but couldn’t wait to get the hell away from the first chance they got.

So, you mean to tell me that these are the people we should leave the answer up to? I don’t think so. That makes about as much sense as a group of vegetarians sitting around arguing about which is the REAL other white meat. These people have done everything possible to distance themselves from ‘those’ kinds of black people. So, why do they seem to care so much? The fact is they don’t care. They just want screen time to hate on rap once again.

Now, while I am no fan of rap myself, I think this constant and endless hip-hop bashing is tiresome, lazy, hypocritical, patronizing, and yes, racist. True, a lot of (mostly mainstream) rap music is problematic and does present a negative viewpoint, but at the same time we human beings have a little thing called choice and personal accountability. Whining about rappers does a great disservice if your 17 year-old thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to rob a store clerk then beat him within an inch of his life. That is his failure as a person and YOUR utter failure as a parent.

Of course, I know rap music is an influence and maybe not a good one but there are many black kids who listen to rap and have never committed one crime in their whole life but are JUST as capable of being led astray by everything else they see such as movies, TV shows, commercials, magazines, graphic novels, comic books, the internet, and even rock music. Despite what some holier-than-black people would have you believe, black kids, particularly teens, are not in some protective bubble where they are exposed to rap music and rap music only who couldn’t possibly find what they see from movies such as The Terminator or shows such as The Sopranos just as enticing as what they hear on a Lil Wayne CD.

Really. It’s more so, because those things are glorified while rap gets a bad rap, and for those of you who say what white people do doesn’t affect me or mine, that’s a complete and utter crock!

There were black people who got shot and injured when low-life James Holmes went on the attack in that Colorado Movie Theater. So yeah, it does affect you. And even if your kids wouldn’t follow the example set by a white person, that doesn’t excuse black adults who see little wrong with taking their kids to horror movies, teen sex comedies or allowing them to play exceedingly violent video games. If you strive to have a more morally centered life then you should reject any form of entertainment that is in direct violation of your moral code. You can be in the world but not of the world, and if you chose to be part of a world that celebrates drugs, murder, illicit sex, crime, and perversion, then don’t be so freaking selective in whom you are high and mighty with.

The bottom line is you don’t know what the hell is making your kids act out, and you don’t know where all their influences come from. So, it’s a complete cop-out to point easy fingers at certain targets. A lot of the problems in the black community have been around longer than either Jay-Z or Ludacris, and you damn sure won’t solve them by sticking your head in a proverbial sand and saying whatever I find there, I will blame.

What gets me the most are those self-righteous black folks who hem and haw while waxing nostalgic about the ‘good old days’ of hip-hop when it was supposedly “the CNN of the streets”. I always want to tell those people to shut the hell up! Puh-lease! Rap music is just that. Music. And if you put more of an emphasis on its reality than it ever deserved, that is on you, not them.

And who the hell died and said it was supposed to stay that way anyhow? It changed and evolved even if it was into something you don’t like. That means you move on, not hold on to 1991 so tightly that your fingers start turning purple.

I have yet to see any argument against rap make one single impact on the troubles in a black community, but that’s the point. They really don’t give a crap about that. They want screen time and people to read their drivel. It was never about ‘fixing’ the black community. If they truly did care, they would be out there in the community counseling youth and actually helping instead of sitting behind the safety of a keyboard attacking straw men.

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