(ThyBlackMan.com) The rapper Chuck D, founder of the legendary hip-hop group, Public Enemy, said some things on national television that were both unexpected and necessary in our nation’s misguided political discourse. During an interview on CNN discussing the one-year anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, Chuck mentioned that since the years of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, there have been “nothing but drugs and guns in the black community.”
Right on Chuck D, I’m glad you’re saying this.
If we could get every hip-hop artist in America to make this very simple point, we could possibly produce the liberation of hundreds of thousands of black families that have been crippled by the prison industrial complex. For some reason, rather than understanding that these systems were created by design, we somehow allow ourselves to believe that black men are inherently less ethical and less intelligent than other Americans who also sometimes break the law. There is hardly a more racist way to describe the situation.
The truth is that everyone does something illegal at some point in their lives. The difference is that some groups (mainly black men), are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be searched, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be convicted and more likely to be incarcerated, even when we commit the same crimes. Nearly every sociological study known to man makes this clear and resounding point, yet many of us (including some black folks) hold onto the David Duke explanation for mass incarceration: ”Those
I recently appeared on a documentary with the History Channel that explored the War on Drugs (I’m not sure when it’ll be released). During my research, I was able to see volumes of clear and well-documented pieces of evidence that the federal government (mainly the CIA) allowed drugs into black communities. The drugs were allowed for various reasons, sometimes to gain political leverage in other countries, and in some cases to suppress political instability that arose during the black power movement.
The CIA was right about one thing: People who spend all their time getting high are hardy ripe for revolution (you ever hear Rick Ross or any other rapper talking about black empowerment when there is dope to be smoked?).
The presence of drugs also made urban communities a reliable market for the millions of guns that are being produced in the United States. We have a country that has more guns than people, and the black market is a great place for gun manufacturers to add to their bottom line. Police “just can’t seem to figure out” how these guns are getting to black neighborhoods illegally, yet they are able to conveniently arrest and prosecute scores of black men each day for a variety of petty charges. The result is a mass incarceration epidemic of holocaust proportions, where we now have entire industries built on modern day slavery (yes, it is actually slavery, since the 13th amendment says that it’s legal to enslave someone if they’ve been convicted of a felony).
The presence of drugs and guns has a broad impact on those affected: There are those who become addicted to drugs, those who are victims of violence, those who are criminalized because of the violence, and those who are incarcerated for drug distribution. Left behind are those who barely escape the crossfire: Children growing up without parents or while seeing their friends shot in the street, parents who’ve lost their kids, black women who can’t find adequate husbands and black men who have no male role models to prepare them for leadership in their communities.
I’m not even going to mention the rapid growth of STD infections that come from a nation that still likes to make jokes about sexual assaults that occur in prisons and jails every year. These infections spread when offenders are released.
If you want to destroy a community, you start by destroying the family. If you want to destroy the family, then a good place to start is by killing off the male. A black male growing up in a web of violence, with few educational and economic opportunities, likely to end up with a criminal record, has a strong possibility of ending up in a life of marginalization and despair, making him almost no good for anyone. As the rapper Tupac Shakur said in a verse on the song “Only God Can Judge Me”: “No more hesitation each and every black male’s trapped, and they wonder why we’re suicidal running round strapped. Mr. police, please try to see that it’s a million m-f*ckers stressin just like me.”
Making matters worse is that we now have an entire commercialized hip-hop music industry, financed by big white corporations that are hellbent on brainwashing black boys into believing that their role in life is to grow into a blunt-smoking, gun toting buffoon who can only spell the word “NBA.” It would seem that in the middle of all the songs about slinging dope, sleeping with women, and killing other black men, artists might take a moment so speak about the effects of long-term systematic discrimination and the terrible effects of guns, drugs and prisons on the people they allegedly care about.
This, my friends, is structural racism at its finest. Black people are owed reparations for the damage done to our community due to the War on Drugs. The reason I am getting together for a forum with Min. Louis Farrakhan on the 30th of March in Chicago is because we must begin to re-define the core of our community, creating a powerful unity that cannot be severed by outside forces. The same way that a town must rebuild after a horrible tornado, black America is now forced to rebuild from the devastation caused by Ronald Reagan and the sadistically-sinister War on Drugs.
To make a long story short, Chuck D is right. Now, if he can convince other rappers to see his point, we might be able to make a difference. We must all be educated.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins