Monica Houston, Opinion Editor
When it comes to this generation’s hip-hop and rap, saying you’re a fan of J.Cole or Kendrick Lamar but listen to Meek Mill is like saying you like baloney but don’t like hot dogs; it doesn’t make sense. Being a fan of conscious rap and hip hop while simultaneously encouraging trap music diminishes the attempts toward liberation.
On Jan. 27, VCU hosted a forum entitled ‘Unapologetically Black: Hip Hop’s Effects on Black Liberation’ in the Commons Theatre. The forum was moderated by Interim Chair of the Department of African American Studies at VCU Kimberly Brown, while the panel featured activist, scholar, and professor at VSU Zoe Spencer, African American Studies professor at VCU Chioke I’Anson, and KRS One.
The seminar discussed topics of liberation from media influence for black men and women, both LGBT and heterosexual. Issues arose questioning how we liberate a people when the individuals in charge of our media publish negative images and music.
It is extremely annoying trying to encourage black liberation when the same people who are protesting against #OscarsSoWhite are turnin’ up every second listening to trap music that consists of no words. How is it that you are pro-black liberation when your main concern is turning up and clubbing?
Many agree that a whitewashed entertainment industry and education complex contributes to the negative depictions of black people. However, as Spencer pointed out at the seminar, “we are the only people that consume and fund our own genocide.” Genocide requires the psychology of a people. White supremacist ideology sustains capitalist interests, and when psychologies sustain the stereotypes of a people through various forms of media, the targets of this genocide purchase and participate in the funding of their own stereotyping. By becoming a gullible, complacent, and all too monotonous species relying on the words and ideals of others, “we fund our own genocide”.
Reality reveals that most media is propaganda. Information is compiled and distributed in order to persuade a group of individuals in the intended direction whether positively or negatively.
In this era, the easiest and quickest way to get news, gossip, or cultural information is through social media. Scroll your timeline and be in-the-know in seconds. This is incredibly efficient and resourceful for an era of people who are always on the move but the problem with receiving information this way is that it isn’t always accurate.
According to Spencer, the people you hear on rotation all day is by design from the media. The rap that you hear now is after the original movement of hip-hop that was for the people, by the people. Hip-Hop is a total culture, coming from our African roots involving the clothes, the drums, the graffiti, the language; we nourished and recycled our own energy, and used our intellectual creative labor to create a neo-consciousness.
When trying to educate black individuals, there is nothing wrong with us having our own platform to educate and uplift our people and anyone else who is curious. But when media saw that hip-hop was profitable without their influence and heard the type of ciphers– messages that are encoded– that were being distributed for the consciousness of blacks to promote our awareness, they had to intervene.
“They bought out the people who wanted to get that money and the quick fame, and the people who were speaking conscious stuff and warning us, they buried it underground and they used the mainstream to promote what they wanted us to hear” Spencer said.
In order to truly liberate ourselves, we must consciously decide not to engage in the type of media that deteriorates or corrupts our mind. I’Anson said, “Part of the issue is that we get some radio play that is relentless. You will hate Hotline Bling until you love it. I think that we have to push past the relentlessness by doing something as ridiculous as turning off the radio and being intentional about what we listen to.”
Becoming intentional about what we listen to and what we watch is the key to black liberation. Otherwise you will remain stuck in the same place forever, fighting the battle with yourself. You cannot outsmart your opponent if you one, know nothing about yourself and two, know nothing about them. Becoming aware and being able to discern what is made for you and what is made against you will not only liberate your mind but your body as well. We are captive, remaining slaves to the media if we continue to consume and fund the type of image we wish to destroy.
Opinion Editor, Monica Houston
Monica is a senior English literature major planning to eventually earn her master’s in education. Monica strives to combine her background in literature and passion for early education to influence future generations with her writing. “Don’t be offended this is all my opinion, ain’t nothing that I’m saying law. This is a true confession of a life learned lesson I’ve been sent here to share with ya’ll.” // LinkedIn