My first impression about mass media influence on black youth culture
Monday, February 06, 2006
Dear E. R. Bills,
I appreciate your letter and must admit that I am more clueless than you are about hip-hop culture, music, language, and credo. Indeed, it is a counter-culture hard to understand, with derivative roots in the black radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s. I recognize much of the slang as originating among convicts inside the prison systems. But the negative rap and vulgar displays is purely a mass media creation. VH1 and MTV are the main culprits. Hip-Hop is Big Business, though the hip-hoppers themselves are the least benefited.
We African-Americans have been trying to get control of this counter-culture and turn it around, in a positive direction, for some time. But we do not have control of the educational institutions. Our standards and discipline are rejected by Anglo-American culture. In the segregated school system, we had prayer, pledge allegiance, corporal punishment, and kids who obeyed and had a sense of common sense and direction. But the integrated school system seems to proceed on the theory of racial inferiority and treat our kids like little monkeys gone out of control.
Many black leaders are beginning to conclude that integration have undermined our traditional family value system and our system of motivating high achievement. But we do not control what comes on TV. We can do nothing about white teachers who cannot handle hip-hop kids. In fact, we find ourselves fighting the backend of the same problem. The superior intellects will not concede defeat and let the real experts handle the problem. As we would have once said, “It’s either a white man’s fix of the problem or no fix at all. And, if he cannot fix the problem, it cannot be fixed”.
As an Old School OG, I have some credibility with the younger generation. They give me my “props”. But some people may believe that we OGs set the original bad example that kids now follow. They vilified the Black Panthers as a gang, similar to the gangs of today. We were discredited and suppressed by the government. This allowed the “pimps” and “players” to rise to become role models in the black community, in place of the Panthers.
People forget that we cared for the young and old, protected our community from Klan attacks and drug pushers, and established Freedom Schools, separate and apart from the mainstream school system. We did not, and still do not, trust just anybody to teach our kids. The terrible situation in the school system today is a result of our demise as a left-wing political party. The infiltration of drugs and pimping came in over our dead bodies. The early black-on-black crimes and shootouts were the results of the wars between the Panthers and the drug lords and pimps. But we could not fight them and defend ourselves against rabid law enforcement at the same time.
Stanley “Tookie” Williams and the Crips and Bloods originally came into existence as protectorates of the community, to fill the vacuum created by the demise of the Black Panthers Party. But they had no leadership who could steer them past exploitation and corruption. Millionaires and billionaires financed the drug trade. Drug producing Third World countries base their agricultural economies on it. The victims of the trade are our children. And, yet they are the most criminalized.
The same is true with illegal weapons and violence on the streets. Gun manufactures benefit from the sales, whether legal or on the black market. A new gun straight from the manufacturer, still with that new grease smell, cost four or five times the regular price on the streets. The drug suppliers are generally the same ones who sell the guns and put out hit contracts. This is what perpetuates street violence, and our kids have no idea that they are being played like puppets on a string until they are forced into a life of crime. I say, “forced”, because they must carry out the crime, “make their bones”, or risk becoming the target of a hit themselves. The cycle of violence as perpetual as it is instigated.
This gangster-ism filters down into the culture with the help of media conveyors who promote this violent, lascivious, and wanton lifestyle as something cute. It sells. It sells records, bling-bling, clothes, rides, etc., etc. And, we African-Americans have no control over it. Whatever influence we try to exert in this arena is countermanded by money and powerful forces that exploit our children for their weaknesses and excesses.
It’s almost as if America wants no solution to this cultural problem. What they want, it seems, is scapegoats for propaganda purpose. This is why your kids are turned on and you are turned off. You think negatively of Hip-Hop, but they love it. Politically speaking, Hip-Hop is isolated and alienated, which makes this younger generation more vulnerable. This is why you see people like Snoop Dogg and Kanye West and others trying to step up to the plate and assume responsibility for turning this negativity around.
In this respect, I praise them for the attempt. But the media will most certainly try to discredit them for taking a positive direction. They want the negative out front. They want the half-naked ‘hoes shaking their booties, until their booties turn into 50-year old jello. By then they are ashamed.
Publicly, I have taken a stand to defend the hip-hop generation for these reasons above, mainly their vulnerability. I write for a number of hip-hop publications in order to give kids some insight and direction. They are leaderless, for the most part. They are abandoned by the establishment, out there in left field, in a world of their own, disconnected from the political mainstream. By the time they come out of La La Land (at the rate they are going), they will be gray-headed and 60-years old like me. Then they will be trying to fix the next screwed up generation after them.
Please take this to heart. It is not your race that alienates you, but your complacency and powerlessness.
PS – I wish to share your letter with my readers. Maybe someone else will see something I omitted.
OMISSION: BET - Part of the Problem or Solution?
BOB JOHNSON TELLS 'OUR STORIES' & TALKS 'MESS':
BET Founder launches studio and new film
By Kenya M Yarbrough,
July 26, 2007
*Robert L. Johnson can easily be counted as one of the top American media moguls. The entertainment executive founded the BET Network in 1980 and in 2004, he became the first African American to be the principal owner of a North American major-league sports franchise after acquiring the Charlotte Bobcats NBA expansion franchise.
Late last year, Johnson founded Our Stories Films, a Los Angeles-based film company whose inaugural release "Who's Your Caddy?" opens nationwide this week…
"Whenever we'd go to forums and meetings involving black creative people, the one constant complaint was, 'Why is there no studio that will tell our stories? Why is there no black executive that can greenlight a film about us?' I heard that ever since I started BET," Johnson shared with EUR's Lee Bailey. "I figured the only way that was going to happen was for somebody African American put up the money, hire the talent, find a strategic partner, and make it happen."
Johnson explained that he named the company Our Stories because of that very complaint...
"I think it's exceedingly important that black people go out and support this film. If this film works, there's going to be more coming down for the audience. If you like going to the movies, you ought to get more films about you, that fit with you and your lifestyle. But it could also spur the other studios to do what we're doing," he said.
On that note, Johnson took the opportunity to discuss the latest controversy at BET. The issue concerns the network's new series "Hot Ghetto Mess" (recently renamed "We Got To Do Better"), which has provoked criticism and sent advertisers running out before its debut last night.
"As far as the 'Hot Ghetto Mess' issue, [BET President/CEO Debra Lee] has got the same problem that I had in that BET, for all practical purposes, is the only preeminent voice for African Americans in media and because of that it is given a greater responsibility and obligation by certain people that BET has to be a little bit 'holier than thou,'" Johnson said. "We'll let Jerry Springer get away with that or we'll let Morton Downey get away with that or we'll let the people at VH1's 'Flavor of Love' get away with that. But when it's black folks making the decision to do that, all of a sudden people start saying you can't do that because you have a greater obligation. And then they go to advertisers and many white advertisers will head for the hills the moment they see themselves in the middle of a black controversial issue. They will stop, [partly] because they don't really want to be on it; don't value it; or they don't know how to handle it."
Johnson called the fallout surrounding 'Hot Ghetto Mess' a "knee-jerk reaction that has a chilling effect on creativity."
"All of a sudden, creative people who want to tell stories or produce shows like 'Hot Ghetto Mess' are saying, 'I don't want to work on BET because they can't doing anything that's innovative or pushes the envelope," he said. "I think that would be detrimental to creativity. I think it would be detrimental to the black community in allowing us to mature and let a lot of voices be heard."
The Most Honest & Challenging Opinion
HAT TIP TO: Jack & Jill Politics
The young man agrees with some of the criticism of BET. But what do you have to offered that is better? It is an honest question, deserving an honest answer. The answer must also cover Mr. Johnson's rationalization for what BET offer.
For the latest information on the BLACK MEDIA vs INTERNET WAR, visit Texas firebrand activist Gina at WhatAboutOurDaughters... (Results from BET's July 25th rollout are still coming in, at this report). Also visit The Mo'Kelly Report.