I guess it was sometime last week, the #Her(oh, yes, I do love how we imbue our significant others with these simple titles), Bri, and I were in a discussion, and in mid-sentence, she evokes the qualification,”although I don’t want to be charged with sacrilege, Harriet Tubman…” and she continued her point. Often, it can be missed that our most sacred ideals do not have to fall from the imaginary scope of myth, and although there is a legend surrounding the personage of Harriet Tubman, given what we do know as objective history about the saint savior of our ancestors, her name does deserve a spot in our cerebral reservoir held in honor for that which is best noted as, “sacred”. In a world where even my most light-heartened critiques of President Barack Obama or Beyonce or Jay-Z are received with a snarl and a defensive reaction, it worries me that our most responsible group of Blacks to carry the future, our youth, do not quite understand the necessity of honoring those that through physical courage and moral indignation carried us to these moments we now refer to as “the present”. And yes, the abstract notion held within the symbol of the term, “sacrilege”, even for a seasoned black media analyst, can immediately open up debate mostly grounded in semantic foray. Yet, when she paused to consider my reaction to her evoking the name “Harriet Tubman”, I understood. I am glad that she has the sensibility to hold our ancestors in that regard in a time when popular Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has decided that Harriet Tubman’s legend is too much for him to chew, to the point where he has written an article for “The Atlantic” entitled, “The Myth Of Harriet Tubman”. I suppose somehow the numbers are just too much for the writer, not sure how that might have hurt him, but whatever.
While I was a member of an organization whose job it was to host guest speakers in a prison facility, one of the leaders was upset by the lack of consideration given to the clean up process and duties of other leaders and active members. As we both walked around the staging area after the guest speakers had left cleaning up, he made a statement,”Sometimes, somethings, have to be treated as sacred”. I was in or around my earlier 20’s at that time, but even then, he did not have to lecture me on the principles or delve into some lofty explanation. I understood him. Although, yes, the term “sacred” holds its own voluminous weight, and easily leads to those sorts of circular debates mentioned in the last paragraph, in that extremely practical context, I was able to grasp his meaning in seconds. In a world where any shortsighted error of action, or lack thereof, can cause the best things to be infringed upon, it is the better choice of action to treat that which you enjoy with a degree of evaluation worthy of such appraisals in real time.
Growing up in a culture that has often taught me to place twenty dollars above the respect I have for an elder, I have learned that our dollar signs– or our belief that we can accrue in some ways more dollars behind the dollar signs written upon our balance sheets–tend to be the only understanding of value we have in this society. As much as I would love to lambaste any person that does not hold sacred those same ideals that I do with regard to race and ethnic origins, I do understand how easily we are socialize to put the child of a White woman and Kenyan man raised light-years away from the Black community above those thinkers and leaders that took police knee and dog bite building Black organizations decades before even the first “Black president”, Bill Clinton(who initiated measures that contributed to the most vast building of prisons to incarcerate an imbalanced number of Black men), was ever elected. The esteem given to such personages, did not make it surprising to me that Lil’ Wayne would vocalize his lack of understanding of our collective sacred space by rapping,”I beat that pussy up like Emmett Till” over a DJ Smallz produced remix of Future’s “Karate Chop”.
And why should we be alarmed?
The majority of Black men in the USA felt Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” was redemptive. This means that a fictional character with very loose connections to anything historical was capable of making Black men feel as though they no longer had to defend or fight for the legacy of psychological trauma, economic inequality, social injustice, or even political disenfranchisement that came as the impact of US Slavery and is significantly highlighted by the slaughter of Emmett Till. Does not take much to appease these niggaz, right? If US Slavery as an institution cannot be held to the utmost critical assessment when adapted by White people for monetary gain, where do those that obviously do not understand the degree of sacredness it should be held in learn to hold it in such esteem?
And why should we be alarmed when they do not?
Comic turned Civil Rights spokesman Dick Gregory felt it necessary to attack Spike Lee for depicting Malcolm X in a zoot suit in the eponymous film production. Spike attacked no one in his interview explaining that he thought it would be disrespectful of his ancestors to watch Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”. Mr. Gregory, however felt it was a tarnish on the image of Malcolm to accurately detail the accounts Malcolm asked Alex Haley to scribe in the only authorized account of Malcolm’s life. Yet, Mr. Gregory thought that “Django Unchained” was redemptive and Spike Lee worthy of epithets for not wanting to watch it in honor of his ancestors. If the elders cannot get it right…
And why should we be alarmed?
In a country where Barack Obama can be toted as the “first Black President” with no previous connections to the Black community before his romantic relationship with Michelle Obama…
In a culture that has a difficulty asking Barack Obama to stop his manipulative and incessant evocation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who took the US Government to task for its involvement in the destruction and imperialistic measures in countries such as North Korea(where Barack Obama as head of the US Executive Branch is NOW presently sending more US soldiers outside of the border in South Korea in preparations for war) and the US Government’s failure to address the unfair compensation practices of its own Black workers(while Barack Obama has consistently since before he was even elected as President of the United States given Billions of dollars to rich corporate and banking interests while making lightweight gestures and nods at raising minimum wage to a measly nine dollars an hour)…
In this sort of social sphere, where in the hell do we expect Lil’ Wayne to know that his words are not only offensive, but work to damage the power of the culture he him Self is a direct representative of?
This is not to defend Lil’ Wayne. It is to take all those upset with him to task. Emmett Till, murdered, beaten, eyes plucked, shot, tied with a barb wire to a cotton gin fan, his body tossed into the Tallahatchie River with what can only be assumed where hopes of his body never washing up. Emmett Till, who came from Obama’s political stomping ground(although, I’m sure Emmett did not have the same support from the Jewish Community as Obama!) to Mississippi, his only crime whistling at a white woman that probably looked much like the mother of EVERY US President that has ever been, including the one dubbed, “First Black President”. Emmett Till, whose mother, in sheer socio-political strategic elegance, decided that, when her son’s body had finally been returned to her, to have an open casket, a decision that allowed the human atrocities of the US Black Holocaust(naw, “holocaust” ain’t strong enough of a word to describe our historical plight in the USA) for not only the world, but for history to see. Emmett Till is a US Black prophet. But in a world where Black academics are paid to urinate on the names of our prophets for their own self-aggrandizement, who are going to be the teachers of those that apparently do not know?
And why should we be alarmed when they act out of that which they do not know?
Why should we be alarmed at the disgustingly misogynistic lyrics of Lil’ Wayne when Michelle Obama, the first Black woman to have sexual relations with a US President and it not be a rape or adultery, answers the question of “who is the one person in the world she would be if they could trade places”, it would be Beyonce? Beyonce’s who’s husband’s first public response to their nuptial arrangement is to call her a “bitch” at not only her performance but on his shared track with Kanye West, “That’s My Bitch”. According to some feminist ideologues, this is the empowerment of Black Women, and it is not my place to speak to who one chooses to empower them, but do not ask me to suspend my local logical ability to overlook glaring hypocrisies. A movement saturated in ideological doublespeak and even more contradictory actions where it is more important to justify sexual indulgences than to ask Florida why Marissa Alexander cannot defend her life from an abusive spouse or why Obama has not seen fit to introduce a bill less reformist than the Lily Ledbetter Act probably cannot be asked to address the layers present in the socialized psychology of a celebrated figure such as Lil’ Wayne.
And why should we be alarmed?
Why should we think what Lil’ Wayne has presented to history as his sexual prowess in hyperbole is so disgusting when we attack Lupe Fiasco for ‘policing the sexuality of women’ when he pens a piece discussing his understanding, no matter how limited, regarding the contextual presentation of the term, “bitch”, specifically as it is used in the phrase, “bad bitch”, and yet we proffer a proverbial ghetto pass to 2 Chains(whose “Birthday Song” which contains the lyrics,”All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe” and has as a guest on the song the same guy that is on the Jay-Z song calling Michelle Obama’s fantasy personage a bitch, Kanye West)? Where is the logic? When does the thinking find some sort of cohesion, let alone coherence? When do our demands on one another begin to makes any sense? When we place more value in celebrity and defend those we deem as highly touted beyond the realm of our most principled display of integrity, we open the door for anyone to trample over our sacred rooms.
And why should we be alarmed?
Why should we care when we continue to elect a president that has shown more concern for Zionist Israel than he has for Inner city Chicago? Israel knows how to hold every nanometer of neurological strand of every brain across the globe regarding the White western Jewish presence historic or otherwise as sacred to the point of demanding that the US and its Allies be held responsible for its holocaust against Palestinians because of the holocaust in Germany. What the West pejoratively refers to as “Arab spring” was further ignited by a Christian making a straight-to-Youtube movie handling the image of Prophet Muhammad in a less than sacred manner. US White media will protect every one of its young men who kill en masse under the auspice of “bullied”, “troubled youth”, and the like, but if one Black man is even thought to have behaved in a minuscule fraction of that, he is labeled as a “domestic terrorist” and hunted by man and predator drones. But why should Blacks– who love to announce just how much of a monolithic people they are not while every other group of nationalized peoples on Earth is loyal to a common heritage and represents a diverse yet unified conglomeration– care? Why should US Blacks be so alarmed, now? Where was this collective angst when Tarantino called you “niggers”, when Ted Danson showed up at a date with Whoopi Goldberg in blackface, when the killers of Amadou Diallo where given promotions, when…wait…when the hell have you all ever really protected your sacred spaces?
So, why are you so damn alarmed that one of your celebrated did what the world showed him he could?