I am quite confident that what I am about to write will prove to be quite controversial, but I implore my readers to please read carefully what I am about to write.
I will preface this column with one of my favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 4:7: “Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.”
Let’s see if we can get some understanding as to why it seems that Blacks, especially young Black males, seems to have a bullseye on them when it comes to routine encounters with police departments all across the country.
Who could not help but be stunned at the shocking death of Alton Sterling last week in Baton Rouge, La.? Who could not help but be in tears at the heart-wrenching death of Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Minn.?
Police clearly had Sterling on the ground with two policemen on top of him when one of the policemen shot him point blank in the chest, all under the guise of him having a gun in his pocket.
Castile was shot while following orders from a Hispanic-American policeman. The policeman was informed by Castile that he had a licensed gun on him along with his permit to carry; following the policeman’s commands to show the documentation, he reached into his pocket to retrieve them and was shot and killed.
Even when Blacks follow instructions, somehow, we still end up dead.
Many Blacks feel like there has been an unofficial war declared on us, especially on young, Black males.
As tragic as these actions were, they should spark a larger, separate conversation about the images that we have created around Black life and Black culture. Regardless of these images, there is no justification for killing those young, Black men. Let’s be clear about that.
For the past 30 years, we have created images of Blacks in the most negative of lights. For those who would say it’s just music, it’s just a movie, it’s just a reality TV show, I say now there is just another Black body lying in the streets of America.
Before you go to war, the first thing that is needed is to create a psychological operations campaign (psy-ops). This is a tactic that the military uses to marginalize its targeted population so that when the troops are sent in to destroy this group, there is little or no public outcry.
Just look at how the U.S. military vilified and demonized former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and terrorist Osama Bin Laden, before we set out to kill them. Upon their deaths at the hands of the U.S. military, the American people cheered because we had devalued and marginalized them before the American people.
I can’t help but ask the Black community, have we unleashed a psy-ops campaign on our own people?
In the horror movie “Frankenstein,” Dr. Frankenstein did not set out to create a monster, but rather he was a scientist playing around in his laboratory. As a result of this experimentation, he created a monster that neither he nor society could control.
In a similar manner, one could argue that Blacks, specifically in Hip-Hop, have experimented in the laboratory called a recording studio; and by exercising their First Amendment Right to freedom of speech and expression through music, they have created their own version of Frankenstein.
In the beginning, like with Frankenstein, people marveled at this new creation and people were willing to pay to see and hear it. There was “Rappers’ Delight,” there was “The Message,” and there was “Fight the Power.” Then, the imagery and lyrics took a twisted turn under a perverted interpretation of the First Amendment called “keeping it real.”
Now, the establishment, especially the police, had become the enemy. Hip-Hop was a counter-culture movement that turned into a monster that could no longer be controlled. Women became “bitches and hoes,” men became hyper-sexualized thugs who were only out to force themselves on your daughters and to “Get Rich or Die Tryin.’” When rap music started, it was a verbal extension of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the spirit of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was about the uplifting of our community and providing a voice to those often without a voice.
Then in the 1990s, rap took a more militaristic tone with the creation of “gangsta rap.” This too, was a verbal extension of the Civil Rights movement, but more in the spirit of Malcolm X on steroids. These artists represented those in the “hood” who felt trapped and abused by the system. They felt like no one cared about them and that life was about the here and now – immediate gratification, so screw the future. They wanted to “get theirs now.” They wanted to live fast, even if it meant dying young.
This ultimately led to the “thug” culture, personified by hit movies like “Scarface,” “New Jack City” and “Carlito’s Way,” each glorifying the criminal lifestyle.
Then you had the crack epidemic of the 1990s with the violence that it brought into the hood. All these factors combined to create a narrative that Black life was worthless and that young Black males were a menace to society.
It’s too bad the rap world didn’t heed the words of Chuck D, KRS-One, Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, D-Nice, Daddy-O and others on the all-time classic, “Self Destruction,” which had as its chorus, “Self-Destruction, ya headed for Self-Destruction.”
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit http://www.bafbf.org. Follow Raynard on Twitter @raynard1223.