The Hudson Tragedy: The Blame Game

by Zettler Clay

The tragic homicides of Darnell Donerson and Jason Hudson, safe to say, caught a few people’s attention around my parts. The question of whether fame is the bait that attracts senseless acts of violence was the main topic of conversation. In a conversation about said Hudson family tragedy, it was Mama Clay who dropped the puzzle:

“I don’t know why people would do something like that. It’s the music and TV that causes people do this mess.”

At first, I thought she was referring to Jennifer Hudson’s fame in the music and television industries that brought on the crime. You know, the whole “mo money, mo problems” thing. Then I realized she was blaming the entertainment industry for its message of violence. It’s donkey-kong on now. Nobody attacks my beloved hip-hop to my face without a prolix reminder that society created hip hop, not the other way around. But then something stopped me.

I thought about it for a second. And realized her point.

The eternal question of “Does art imitate life or does life imitate art” initiates much debate because there are many who charge arts with distorting human reality and giving people ideas to act in a particular way. Filmmakers and musicians cite the First Amendment as their exercise to enact free speech. Besides, they say, from where do you think we draw our inspiration? Fix societal problems and you will fix the “distorted” art that we put out.

If inner-city ills are a reality of many rappers, then those rappers will talk about what they know. Reality is like a mirror: when you look into it, it reflects back to you. However, if you change that reality, that mirror, then you will see something totally different. But there are some people whose realities are shaped by what they see or hear. How can you tell the difference and how can you prevent this from happening? At what point does life imitate art?

When I first read about the Hudson tragedy, I thought about the movie Paid in Full. There was a sequence towards the conclusion of the movie when the resident drug lord and his family were robbed. The drug lord, played by Avon Barksdale, I meant Wood Harris, resisted and was subsequently shot. He survived, and when he regained consciousness he found two members of his family dead. His best friend’s little brother was later abducted. To sum things up, his best friend’s little brother was later found to be kidnapped by his own uncle. All this because of money and jealousy.

I am in no way insinuating that the Hudson family was involved in drug trafficking. I am merely pointing out the commonalities in the murders and the motives for each.

I’m no detective and I am not privy to the details of the situation, but what happened in that double homicide in Chicago that day reeks heavily of killings spurred by a desire for resources (namely, cash). Is this an instance of life being created by art as Obama stated? Or is this a separate incident, a total coincidence independent of the violence being portrayed in art?

It seems to me that black men have been the victims of poor realities. This is for many reasons of course, but it comes a time when an active role in distinguishing between the whims of art and the reality it attempts to purvey has to happen. In order to cure an illness, you must diagnose the problem. And black people, we do have a problem in this area.

Time to stop letting art determine our realities.

  • Dede

    Zet — this was great piece. I too at the beginning thought the tragedy was caused in someway because of Jennifer’s success, (maybe she wasn’t passing out money like some may liked her too, maybe the brother-in-law was salty over the separation due to to him not having access to the Hudson perks — I don’t know – something like that) but it seems it’s something else, something deeper. Especially since the killer did not take anything from the home.

    I am sick that someone is out there on the street evil enough to take a life and especially an INNOCENT BABY’S life. I am disgusted and pissed and I hope they find him and lock him up and throw away the key!

    I can only imagine what caused this terrible act. I just pray that Jennifer is able to get through this and go on with her life. The death of a parent is SO life altering and can take you down a road of deep depression for a very long time and that’s with a natural caused death – so I can only imagine when their lives are taken by violence how it must feel.

    To your point, I am a BIG hip-hop fan – I listen to empowering to fun to the bling bling type of artist. But, Mr. Obama is right.

    Violence is being glorified everyday in the media, especially the media targeted toward us. We really have to come up a way to block these messages of violence, drugs and negativity from our children if we can stop it and teach them early we can stop a lot of the violent crimes going on in our communities and help them grow and go down the RIGHT path.

    We also have to have our men step up and be responsible and help their mate or childs mother explain what’s real and fake, what’s right and wrong, and help redefine what’s cool and not let them see an artist fronting on TV highlighting drugs and guns and then have them take that message as the cool one.

    It’s really time for us to step it up in our communities and families, and especially our men. Not coming down on yall, but I have seen too many single moms taking care their children by themselves trying to teach their children alone and I believe it take a village and if it can’t be a village at least the father of the child can step in and help aid in molding a smart, informed and healthy child.

    My heart and prayers continue to go out to Jennifer.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    I don’t think this tragedy has anything to do with Jennifer’s celebrity. This type of thing happens several times a year to average folks. It’s about the mind of a pychopath. All eyes on the brother-in-law because it is usually the people we love that commit crimes of passion. So far there has been no report that something was taken from the home. They don’t all come with prison records but when a they do we sisters need to be careful about inviting these types into our family.

  • EtC

    I don’t think that in all cases it is a matter of art dictating our reality. For a large number of people, violence is their reality. And the sad problem is that this type of mentality breeds this type of mentality. Maybe if people valued their lives they would be less inclined to take the lives of others. And artistically, if that is all you’re living, that is more than likely all you can create. Props out to the artists who have the wherewithal to transcend this and create positivity.

    I send positive vibes to Jennifer and everyone else in the world that has lost a loved one in a violent manner. Sometimes these are the hardest losses to handle.

  • priskillingme

    this is by far one of the most insightful pieces that i have read on the j hud devastating event. what i love about clutch is how the blogsite can easily rival a vogue but has news that is relevant to me as a black women. keep rockin’!

  • tremaine

    In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve even sat down and actually focused on that “what caused this” question… For me, it’s been mainly a tragedy that occurred in our nation that is much like any other tragedy, the only difference is JHud is a well known Pop Artist. It sickens me to think that anyone with any background can commit a brutal crime such as this one. It worries me more and more when thinking about the future. Your mom put a little perspective on things and you summed it all up with this article.

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  • Zettler

    You know, I first “dismissed” this situation as something that could happen to anybody. It’s sad when stuff like this happens three times a week on the local news channel. But then I realized that there was something different about the nature of these killings. Nothing was stolen. Child was shot in the car. Car was left in the open. It is almost as if somebody thought this out and planned it, akin to a director shooting a movie. Just like Scream. It’s just twisted that someone would spend their time plotting up heinous acts of violence. The danger of this is that nobody can seem to draw the line between art induced crimes or environment induced crimes. That’s why I feel that there will always be those “Hop Hop vs. America” conversations, and we will be spinning our wheels discussing the same thing and blaming this, that, or the other for our issues.

    The question of “Why would someone do this to her” will forever haunt the viewers of the tragedy. That answer we may never know. I just hope that this article was a start to answering the riddle of movie and life similarities. Some stuff that happens in life just seem too script-like.

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