Since its inception, Hip Hop has been a target for problems in the Black community. Forty years later, it’s still a topic of discussion. On Monday, July 22, Bill O’Reilly launched a tirade of issues in his Talking Points segment of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News titled ‘President Obama and the Race Problem.’ Bill O’Reilly attacks African-American leadership for having no clue on how to solve the crisis in the Black community and offered his own set of solutions. While Bill and his Right Wing approach is sometimes uncomfortable to digest, he gave a somewhat valid synopsis on what’s happening in our neck of the woods.
He cited two major problems: the entertainment industry peddling garbage (Hip Hop music) to impressionable youth and the alleged disintegration of the African American family. I find it insulting that in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict, that Bill O’Reilly has the temerity to challenge us to reform Black America, but won’t challenge Whites to examine White privilege or White supremacy.
Regardless of O’Reilly’s views, we should take it upon ourselves to examine what Hip Hop artists are spewing.
For example, after Harry Belafonte said last year that Jay Z and his wife, Beyonce, have turned their back on social responsibility, Jay Z struck back. In his song ‘Nickels and Dimes,’ the Hip Hop mogul said:
“I’m just trying to find common ground
‘fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a nígga down
Mr. Day O, major fail
Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now
Hublot homie, two door homie
You don’t know all the sh#* I do for the homies”
Not only does Jay Z call the iconic civil rights activist a ‘boy,’ he says it’s “my time.”
It’s your time to do what? Remove the hyphen from your name? Send the wrong message to young people about the contributions of Harry Belafonte? The super star actor paid a high price for his civil rights work long before Jay Z was born. In my book, he has earned the right to chastise the younger generation, which he does in love.
In an interview with Elliot Wilson of Rap Radar, Jay Z says he was offended by Mr. Belafonte’s comment because his (Jay Z’s) ‘presence is charity’ and goes on to compare himself to President Obama saying if he (President Obama), like himself, speaks on anything that should be enough.
This is where I jump off the RocNation tour. If Jay Z can’t respect Harry Belafonte and his earnest plea for using his influence to change the state of Black America, what good is he? I agree with Bill Cosby when he says instead of President Obama condemning the entertainers who get rich marketing negative images to kids who emulate their lyrics and attitudes, he invited them into the White House. But that’s a different conversation for a different day.
What do you think happens when Jay Z doesn’t respect a man like Harry Belefonte and doesn’t condemn the problems that he knows exists. Jay Z says he uses his instinct to connect to issues he feels are important to support. So the very issues that you went through in the projects of Marcy are not all important? Harry Belafonte was so far off base that you denigrate him by calling him a boy? Then you turn around and say he went about it wrong and you are open to a dialogue?
Time Out. I am tired of the mum is the word mentality in our African American community. We stay quiet or politically correct out of fear of not being invited to the next party or invited to the table to break bread with the few celebrities who are making money but are inadvertently killing us.
Since advertisers and the corporations are paying for the loaded messages we feel forced to go along with the nonsense even though we know it’s wrong. As a result, we are enslaving ourselves. No it’s not the White man’s problem that our children are not prepared to compete in this society. We know the rules, we know the game. It’s our responsibility to get these kids ready to play.
For some reason it seems as if we are waiting for the White man to care about us more than we care about ourselves. Our only way out is the people and the celebrities who break through to open more opportunities for the next great thinker, the next great artist. Instead you walk around like someone owes you something because your ego is too big to share the stage and your self-esteem is too low to give someone else a chance.
Actually, Belafonte went easy on some of our artists.
(Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union, can be reached at <email@example.com> or Tweet her at <@flygirlladyjay>.)