Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

I Like Rap Music May 31, 2012

Filed under: Music,Social Commentary,Social Justice — Micah Griffin @ 19:50
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I like it. Does it have problems on the whole? Yeah. Go find me a genre that’s remotely close to as popular as rap music is that doesn’t have any problems.

I’ll wait.

Okay. Here’s the deal. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Nope. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Absolutely. It’s complicated. There are issues of misogyny and the general idea that women are pokemon, trading cards, and other collectible doodads on which you (as a man) measure your personal success. The interesting thing is how so many of our more popular rappers seem to completely understand complex theories of societal racism and have heavily examined them and the impact they have on black life in america, yet how few of those same ones look at societal sexism in anything near the same light. Same with homophobia for that matter.

That said, rap music is still about time and place and a social consciousness. It confronts social issues (whether positively or negatively) way more than pretty much any other genre of music. So many songs are just one person spilling out their feelings in a long dialogue with the listener. This means you get all the fucked up shit that goes through people’s minds. All the good and bad that goes with it, all the internalized struggles, and most importantly, you get to see growth in thought process. There’s a good song by Big K.R.I.T. that talks about pimping and misogyny and how get got to be where he is and the use of the words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ and how he knows it’s bad but that’s the world he’s in and all of the everyday stuff that comes with being in that world. It’s something you don’t get to see in a lot of music.

Know why the misogyny and homophobia is hit on so hard? Because the rest of it is too positive and critical for white folks to handle. Listen to stuff like Killer Mike’s “Reagan” or “Pressure.” Those tracks bring absolute heat and knowledge about police brutality, private prisons, the birth of the welfare queen myth and a bunch of other societal racism problems. There’s songs about how the drug game is an easier path to take than going to college. One of those things requires money and privilege you never had and can’t get, the other require you just to be fast, smart, and strong. One of those leads to a $25k a year job and the other has the potential to lead to big money and big cars. When you’re likely to end up in jail for whistling at a white woman or looking a white man in the eye why not sell drugs?

The rappers with the problems I’ve stated above don’t make up all rap music. In fact, they make up less and less of it. They’re the most popular ones, but that has less to do with rap music and more to do the people who promote rap music, the record labels, the radio stations, and a bunch of people outside the creation of rap music.

Ask yourself what’s worse; A man writing a song that has issues of misogyny all by himself and producing that song unilaterally, or a team of producers and an entire band doing a song about misogyny and how awesome it is? Not that either is good, but I find it odd when society stands on the roof tops and decries rap music while lauding Nickelback for some unknown reason. There is so much misogyny is mainstream pop and rock music that goes ignored in favor of trying to destroy an art form dominated by black people.

Here’s the secret. Even in the misogyny laden rap tracks, there’s more uplifting verses about black women and how awesome they are than you’ll ever get anywhere else. There’s this weird culture around it, but a lot of these dudes seem to love black women. Not just as sex objects, but as pillars of the community, mothers, sisters, daughters, role models, freedom fighters, drug runners, business people, drivers, snipers, organizers, and a bunch of other roles. Once you survive being denigrated for the first thirty years of your life you become a GOD. I am actually going to examine that and write about it later.

The other secret, once you leave traditional record labels the entire thing flips upside down. There’s an entire world of non problematic rap music. Shit is great. But white people don’t want to listen to it. White people are far more comfortable with Lil Wayne. It fits their image of black masculinity and black people in general a lot better. There’s also a lot of black women rappers out there too. There are even queer people of color doing rap music. It’s fucking WILD.

Basically, I say a bunch of that to say this.

Lay off. When you get ready to criticize the entire genre of rap music think about how many times you’ve criticized every other genre of popular music. Think about why you hear so much about the misogyny in rap music and not in other types of music. Think about how little you hear about the positives of rap music. Think about the number of white people directly profiting off the things you hate so much and how instead of going after them you’re going after black people who would be doing a large number of things if they weren’t told by life and society that this is how you can get out of your bad situation. Booty Butt Cheeks sells records. Think about why that is.

Once you’ve done all that, shut up. Cause I don’t want to hear it.

And to whoever said that the Beastie Boys made you feel like rap music loved you back? FUCK YOU. Seriously. You’re acting in racist ignorant buffoonery. Black people made plenty of awesome rap music before they showed up. Black people made plenty of anti sexism songs. In fact, a great many of those black people were women. Those black women whom made it possible for the beastie boys to sell records. But you didn’t feel  loved until some white frat boys showed up acting like regular old white ass holes. Gotcha.

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A Memorial Day For My fallen Heroes May 30, 2012

So memorial day happened and I did the thing I do where I try to remind people that the U.S. military is only protecting the freedoms of certain people. But those ideas get shouted down and destroyed because we live in a society where this busted idea of patriotism means any sort of disparaging remark about America (and this especially means it’s military) means you’re a traitor eligible for death. I was going to write a long involved post about this, but decided against it cause I was tired and sick and this summer isn’t going quite how I originally imagined and so forth.

But today I read this quote and decided I would come back to the topic.

“I’ve seen a ton on the facebooks about “thanking veterans for their service.” As a veteran let me just be very straightforward and honest with you. We didn’t “serve our country”; we don’t actually serve our brothers/sisters or our neighbors. We serve the interests of Capital. We never risked our lives or spent months on deployment away from our family and friends so they can have this abstract concept called “freedom”. We served big oil; big coal; Coca-Cola; Kellogg, Brown, and Root and all the other big Capital interests who don’t know a fucking thing about sacrifice. These people will never have to deal with the loss of a loved one or the physical and/or psychological scars that those who “serve”, and their families, have to deal with for the rest of their lives. The most patriotic thing someone can do is to tell truth to power and dedicate yourself to building power to overthrow these sociopathic assholes. I served with some of the most real and genuine people I’ve ever met. You’ll never see solidarity like the kind of solidarity you experience when your life depends on the person next to you. But most of us didn’t join for that; we joined because we were fucking poor and didn’t have many other options.”

An anti-capitalist veteran (via elitc)

Yay this guy. I catch so much flack for saying the military isn’t out here protecting my freedoms because the state is busy steadily trying to take them away from me. The military is fighting against some vague idea of terror or something to make sure that the cops can kill black people with no fear of reprisal? That’s something to stand up and cheer. The military was out there fighting Hitler so those same white soldiers could come home and join lynch mobs? So that same greatest generation of soldiers could come and burn down homes and churches and try to dismantle black communities? So they could rape Native American women and laugh about how nothing will be done? They went to fight in Vietnam so that land and property could continue to be stripped from Native peoples? We’re currently in Iraq so that black women can be sentenced to 20 years in jail for firing a warning shot in self defense? Our military went out to kill Osama Bin Laden so that a trans woman of color could be charged with murder and the white people who instigated the event can walk away without any charges? So trans people can be attacked and killed every day and our criminal justice system can ignore the perpetrators? Our soldiers are out there fighting to keep the private prison industry awash in young black bodies? So we can continue this war on drugs (read: war on poor black people).

These people aren’t heroes just because they signed up for the military. Dying in action is a blower, but so is dying because some racist ass hole follows you around and decides your blackness is a plague on this earth that needs to be wiped out. I’m not in the business of praising people who aren’t actually doing anything worthy of praise. Yeah, they’re out killing a bunch of other brown people with different political ideas than America has.

News flash. I’m a brown person with different political ideas than the rest of America. So pardon me when I don’t jump up and down that our brave sons and daughters kill a bunch of people not too dissimilar to me. Not when they’re coming home to this country that is so fucked up and feels so hopeless most days. They’re not protecting my freedoms. I don’t have a whole lot of them to begin with, and the ones I do have are protected by the brave men and women who are dying on American soil. The ones being beaten and killed by cops in the name of our war on drugs. Those are the people I choose to memorialize. Those are who I pay homage to.

So here’s to the people who can’t see their families because going to visit them would mean not being able to even come back into this country. Here’s to the little kids taken away from their parents because the bill of goods about building a better life doesn’t actually apply to them. Here’s to the women who die in pregnancy because their fetus was more important than them.  To all the people stuck in generational poverty. Here’s to my siblings detained and questioned on the sole grounds of belonging to a particularly thriving mosque. To all the people who don’t live life according to an arbitrary gender binary. To all the people who started living homeless since becoming high school dropouts when their parents found out they were some kind of queer and booted them out. To all the kids who commit suicide because our society says they’re not valuable humans. To the people who choose to love as many people as they please in whatever manner they please, and those who choose not to love anyone. To the people who are told how their anger is unwarranted and to get over the hardships of their personal lives because no one is actually discriminating against you. To everyone who is raped and then told that it’s their fault, that they had it coming, that it wasn’t really rape, that they asked for it, that they’re a bad person for not cheering for the person who raped them at a high school basketball game.

These people and so many more are who I memorialize. No one is fighting for us. The military isn’t protecting our freedoms. This isn’t unpatriotic. It’s just a statement of fact. None of the terrible shit happening in our lives would actually get worse if the U.S. was involved in a few less conflicts.

 

The Institution always wins May 8, 2012

The Wire (my favorite TV Show of all time) had one lesson. Throughout the entirety of the show, all the main plots and sub plots, the heart and core of the show was that the institution always wins. You can’t beat it. The institution always protects itself. No one is bigger than it.

Sandusky and Joe Paterno couldn’t stop Penn State. Joe Pa is a figurehead and one of the main reasons that school is as nationally relevant and prominent as it is. The people who decided to fire him the way they did? Irrelevant. But the institution took care of it. The institution allowed Sandusky’s actions and Paterno’s inaction to take place. It covered it up until it couldn’t, and once it couldn’t it removed the easiest piece to remove and just kept rolling.

There are black cops and there are women cops and there are women black cops. But being a cop becomes immediately more important to them than their status before. They won’t step in to prevent sexual abuse or police brutality done to their members because that would put them at odds with the institution. We’ve seen over and over again that when a cop thinks other cops are wrong the good cop gets gone in a hurry. No matter how high up the problem goes, no matter how thoroughly corruption is exposed, the institution will protect itself.

There’s all this talk about the Democratic and Republican parties having these large internal rifts between different sects. Doesn’t matter, those institutions will protect themselves. Those two institutions together will help each other maintain the two party system more or less as it is. There’se a reason it’s been like this for so long. You can’t beat institutions.

So it’s not surprising when an editor looks over a ridiculously bad piece of writing and says to themselves “If I reject this everyone will shun me. If I don’t lose my job my working conditions here will suffer greatly. It’s going to get through anyway, so I’ll just let it slide and not out myself as a stick in the mud.” It’s not surprising when someone says “Yeah, this ad is a problem, but Ashton already did it and there’s no way I’m getting fired because I said it was racist. The white folks up top like it, so it can’t be racist to me.”

Once people get themselves inside an institution they become terrified to cross it in any real and noticeable way. Their job could become that much harder, their chance at rising up the ladder that much less. They could be fired, and more so be snuffed out of a chance to do other jobs. Fighting injustice just isn’t worth that to most people.

 

May 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Micah Griffin @ 12:57

Race Files

I’m often asked why I’ve focused so much more on anti-black racism than on Asians over the years. Some suggest I suffer from internalized racism.

That might well be true since who doesn’t suffer from internalized racism?  I mean, even white people internalize racism. The difference is that white people’s internalized racism is against people of color, and it’s backed up by those who control societal institutions and capital.

But some folk have more on their minds.  They say that focusing on black and white reinforces a false racial binary that marginalizes the experiences of non-black people of color. No argument here. But I also think that trying to mix things up by putting non-black people of color in the middle is a problem because there’s no “middle.”

So there’s most of my answer. I’m sure I do suffer from internalized racism, but I don’t think that racism is defined…

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