A celebrity does not a role model make. Let me say that again, a celebrity does not a role model make.
Despite the constant pressure put on entertainers to use their platform to address societal ills, can I be honest? Everybody with one million-plus Instagram followers, a few albums or, hell, an opinion, need not speak on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, police brutality, or any issues falling under the guise of justice when it comes to African-Americans in this country right now.
While I know that may sound hypocritical (considering I’m voicing my opinion right now), I think we all can agree that one of the equally beautiful and unfortunate realities of the world we live in today is everybody has a voice. While in most instances this is a good thing, when it comes to issues as serious as the ones our community is facing right now, it’s become painfully obvious that not every voice that’s lent to the cause is helpful; in fact, some are downright counterproductive.
As much as I want to see black men start to take the lead in this fight which largely concerns them, and as much as I would love for those leaders to rise out of the hip-hop community considering the international and cross-cultural influence rappers have, we’re no longer living in the Public Enemy “Fight the Power” days or even the times of N.W.A.’s “F-ck the Police.” The majority of the biggest names in rap today are far from what I would call conscious, and while I applaud these artists’ decision not to stand by and watch the murders of our men and women in silence, I implore them to be more strategic in their efforts so as not to stifle the goals of the larger movement.
Operation H.U.N.T Meet NOW at Joe’s auto park parking 1221 west 3rd street Los Angeles California 90017 Calling: ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN, MEXICAN AMERICAN MEN & any other RACE of REAL MEN with heart to stand with us today & walk peacefully to the LAPD headquarters. [LEAVE ALL WOMEN & CHILDREN AT HOME… THIS IS OUR MISSION FOR THEM] Do not: bring any weapons or anything illegal. Do not come high or belligerent.. We don’t need any HOT HEADS or anyone there for the wrong reasons… We will stand as we are, UNIFIED. I’m calling ALL GANGS, ALL RACES, ALL GROWN MEN affiliated or not & WE WILL STAND UNIFIED tomorrow !!!! Our numbers are all the weapons we need !!! We do not need to be dumb, retarded or uncivilized today… ALL WE NEED IS EACH OTHER… I will not lead any of you into a trap !!!!! Objective: to make the Californian government & it’s law branches aware that from today forward, we will be UNIFIED as minorities & we will no longer allow them to hunt us or be hunted by us !!! Let’s erase the fear of one another on both sides & start something new here in the city of Los Angeles, a city we all love & share ! There are many things that have to be done to rectify this situation that has plagued us for hundreds of years & UNIFICATION is the 1st step !!! Again, I’m asking for ALL of my AFRICAN AMERICAN, MEXICAN AMERICAN & any other AMERICAN who has the heart to STAND WITH US to meet us at the above address & take the 1st step into altering our future for our children & our FAMILIES….I LOVE EVERY ONE OF YOU & WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES & OUR FAMILIES TO BE MEN & TAKE A STAND MY BROTHERS.. THE TIME IS NOW – The Game 📸 @derekdidit
This week The Game rose up as a surprising voice in the quest to end police brutality, incidentally leading a march to LAPD headquarters this past weekend to shake hands with officers and spread the H.U.N.T. message: Hunt/Hate us not today. However, in an appearance on TMZ’s Raq Rants, the rapper took a left turn when he suggested the African-American community look away from the immediate threat of police violence and turn the mirror on ourselves.
“Guess what? It ain’t more police killing blacks than it is blacks killing blacks. So sometimes when we go on these Black Lives Matter marches and we yelling out “Black Lives Matter” and we both marching this way toward people we think are doing us injustice. Why don’t we turn sideways and look at each other sometimes and ask ourselves to our lives matter to each other to us because we’re killing more of us than anybody else?” (unwoke show host responds, “I totally understand that.”)
My question to The Game would be, should we turn to each other before we pledge membership in the notoriously violent gang he so proudly boasts to be a part of, or after listening to his lyrics about pulling guns on other black men? I really didn’t want to go there because I believe people can grow and not everybody gets woke at the same time. And I also know what’s said in a lyric today in reflection of a particular experience my not hold the same truth or meaning in the future. However, considering this is The Game’s first notable effort to speak out against black-on-black crime, he has to take responsibility for the part he’s played in encouraging it — since he’s criticizing the behavior now — and he also must own up to distracting from the most pressing matter at hand.
I won’t go too deep into this because we all know what’s problematic with the black-on-black violence rhetoric in the face of anti-police brutality efforts, but what I will no longer stand for is people in our community giving off the impression to the world that we don’t care about our crimes or hold ourselves accountable for them. Men and women have been marching in Chicago for years. But you know what they’ve also been doing? Asking the government and the police force to step in (not with violence) where they can’t, to get guns off the street, to prosecute murderers in their neighborhoods, and to take serious measures to reduce crime. Those efforts have been mimicked across the country as well, and by and large they’ve fallen on deaf ears, much like the concession that Black Lives Matter. So don’t tell me about any silly statistics that excuse and encourage lawlessness by the ones paid to enforce the law and protect all citizens. If you’re so keen on using the word all, use it in that context, not to contend that all lives matter, like The Game went on to say. According to him,”You can’t isolate everybody, because that can be a form of racism if you really think about it?… Why don’t we just kill all the sh-t and say that we all matter?”
Mmm because we actually really thought about it and…no.
Now I’m certain many of you are thinking “What did you expect from a Compton self-professed ‘educated hood negro'”? And the answer is truly not much. The problem is people outside of our community don’t know better than to dismiss what he’s saying, all they’ll see is a loophole to justify aggressive policing. It’s like the n-word debate but with much more gravity. White people everywhere are looking for an excuse to downplay the actions of murderous cops and The Game just gave them several.
On the flip side, you have men like David Banner, who profess to speak for the people, insinuating physical action against officers is the answer to our problem. While I concur marching or talking hasn’t necessarily been effective during the past few years, I think we all can agree more violence is not the answer. Furthermore, putting notions like that in the air — or on camera — just adds to the narrative that we’re the aggressors in these situations, despite dash cam and livestream evidence demonstrating otherwise and peaceful protest after peaceful protest where the only ones doing the assaulting have been cops.
In reply to the negative response David Banner’s words garnered, most notably from Lyfe Jennings who called him out in a town hall meeting, he argued “We must disagree in private and move forward with understanding.” I would say we must also strategize in private.
What we’re missing by and large right now is a unified voice. Some of everyone is throwing their two cents in the ring and all we’re getting out of it are debates on semantics. Black Lives Matter has given us a national platform, but rather than consult the group on establishing a universal list of demands and actionable steps to achieve them, individuals are coming forward with opinion and conjecture and simply adding noise but not really saying anything. That is not a movement and that is not how you invoke change.
The leaders in this fight have made themselves known. What these celebrities need to do is assist the DeRays and Johnettas of the world, not develop one-off efforts that gain little traction. If they want to spark change on a local level, by all means do that. But don’t speak nationally without considering whether those words are actually helping or hurting the overarching goals of the movement. As of late, far too many public figures have fallen in the latter category, causing me to think it’d be better had they not spoken at all.