September 27, 2011
Koncept is actually pretty smooth on this track produced by Tranzformer. A different approach from the expected 'back packer' boasts we've become accustomed to from a multitude of underground Hiphop artists. Music to get you high off the vibe not the special brownies.
September 26, 2011
Black people in America have long been vilified by the white population of this country. To justify slavery they depicted us as subhuman, uncivilized savages that threatened to rape their women, among other things. We needed to be “civilized” by good Christian white folks to progress from our intrinsically animal like ways. The perceived innate savagery of the black being is cause for black law offenders often being punished 3 times harder than white offenders guilty of the same crimes.
There is a disproportionate amount of black Americans residing in poverty; in ghettos. This stems from bans on education of slaves that prohibited many blacks from becoming literate, government sanctioned exclusion from the most prosperous professions, red-lining which denied black people access to living in certain communities based on their color, and inferior schooling among other factors. This informs the white American consensus that if you’re black, you’re assumed to be from the ghetto, unless they’re otherwise informed.
The ghettos across America, by and large, are considered the respective hearts of black America and where authentic blackness resides. Is it coincidental that the ghetto is also the place well known as the realm of the uneducated, consequently ignorant, and the often belligerent? The ghetto is a place whose inhabitants are used to reinforce prior theories of black inferiority, inhumanity, savagery, hyper-violence, hyper-sexuality, and criminality. We're said to love joblessness and welfare. We're said to love ignorance and crime. Those who don’t fit into that picture are considered the exception and not the rule.
We invited the transformation of racism. Color doesn’t dictate the guidelines of racial exclusion in America. Employers are now free to discriminate on black Americans by things like their name and geographic location. When we speak of the “ghetto mentality” in regards to it being undesirable, we must also recognize the fact that we are also painting the people of the ghetto as undesirable, as this is the alleged mind-state of ghetto inhabitants. We have people in the ghetto that don’t consider themselves to be ghetto so they feel excluded from the connotation that the term carries.
One day, I was riding the bus and I heard a brother behind me tell a girl “You know what I like most about you? You don’t have that ghetto mentality. I mean you let it come out of you when you need it to but…” For some reason it made me cringe at the sound of it. When the bus reached their stop and they departed I looked around where they were exiting the bus and low and behold it was what most would consider being the ghetto. Maybe they didn’t live there, maybe they were visiting. I don’t know. Just to entertain the idea that they were residents of that area made his statements seem so counterproductive to me. I couldn’t help but to feel in uttering those words he hoped to express the sentiment that she, like he weren’t like “those people” where they come from, that they were better. It’s alright for them to entertain that idea because they can differentiate but not everyone else does or can.
In demonizing the ghetto we demonizing ourselves regardless of whether of we feel a part of its prevailing culture or not. When police enter our communities with negative attitudes about who we are we all fall subject and victim to their treatment. When jobs use their preconceived notions about where we come from and reside to discriminate in their employment practices we all fall victim to it.
As black Americans we’re conditioned to aspire to progress out of the ghetto and away from the “ghetto mentality”. The progress of which we aspire is measured in proximity to whiteness. It was long ago established that the black man needed to be “civilized”, which meant indoctrinated into white culture, in order to gain acceptance which is what many blacks in America view as progress. Not much has changed.
To white America, a criminal is typically considered to be a bad person. White Americans aren’t viewed as or view themselves as bad people so the terms crime and criminal don’t speak to who they are as a people. Black Americans have been demonized to the extent that crime and criminal speak to who we are as a people. Blackness and criminality are synonymous. White America doesn’t know what it means to be black beyond their preconceived notions of what it means to be ghetto; both are synonymous with being criminal.
Black Americans have fallen under the illusion that when white people use terms such as “ghetto” & “nigger” they’re speaking to a particular kind of black people and not black people holistically. This has led to us adopting those terms in order to create a division amongst ourselves between the good and the bad. In a society that has been conditioned to believe that if you’re black you’re inherently bad and to become good you must progress out of blackness, we say “I’m black but I’m not ‘ghetto’” and “I’m black but I’m not a ‘nigger’”, terms that we believe embody what white people view as bad about black people and not black people in general but are and acceptance of those terms in any regard as a description of any kind of blackness reinforces their belief.
White America doesn’t differentiate because it doesn’t know how to. No officer shouts “Stop! Show me your degrees or I’ll shoot. Stop! Let me hear if you say ‘I am not’ as opposed to ‘I ain’t’ or I’ll shoot.” As John Henry Gates Jr. learned, outside of those lines there’s no separation of who is black and who is ghetto or who is black and who is a nigger. Outside of those lines we are all the same, black, which problematically carries the connotation of criminal. Largely at this stage of the game we have ourselves to blame because we continue to reinforce the idea that black does equal criminal but by compartmentalizing it into different categories of blackness that only we can differentiate between.
When incidents of police brutality occur, such as the one that took place at the recent Smif-N-Wessun & Pete Rock concert, it usually results in no action, no movement, no one is held accountable. This is the result of fragmented resistance. There are those of us that are outraged by it and there are those of us that think what happened, happened because the people it happened to don’t talk, act, or dress the right way. The incident isn’t considered to be something that happened to “us” but something that happened to “them”, the ghetto people and the niggas.
On many occasions after the unjustified murder of one unarmed black man or another, Sean Bell, Timothy Stansberry, Oscar Grant, I’d express my outrage to older blacks that would say “Yeah that’s terrible, but these young guys be out here on these street corners with their pants hanging off of their ass saying nigga this and nigga that. Maybe if they get their ass off the street things like this wouldn’t happen to them.” Their sentiment is that it’s somehow something self-inflicted. It’s easy to write-off the opinions of an old fuddy duddy when you don’t recognize the fact that young blacks in America have no political power. Those old fuddy duddies in the black community are who the little politicians we have lobbying on our behalf listen to. Until we’re able to organize and mobilize to gain our own political power, what they think matters.
I’m fond of a psychological concept developed by Charles Horton Cooley called the looking -glass self. The looking-glass self is based around the idea that you are what you see people in your society believe you to be. We consider ourselves smart based on how the people around us measure intellectual capacity. We view ourselves as good or bad based on how the people around us determine such things. Once we’re labeled we tend to act in manners that run consistent with our labels. In casting the “ghetto mentality” as something negative, we label the people of the ghetto as negative and some tend to act accordingly. If we want to really change the “ghetto mentality” we must first change the perception of what it means to be ghetto, in doing so we change the actions that run consistent with the label and the people that identify with it.
In the ghetto I see people that have jobs some people that don’t, people that have finished school, some people that haven’t, people that have class, some people that don’t. The definition of ghetto has been allowed to be defined by those who don’t as those who have sought to exalt themselves above those who don’t. As a people our self-esteem in connection with our intrinsic self has taken such a beating and is so low we constantly seek out means of getting a boost just to remain stable. The educated get their self-esteem boost in looking down on the uneducated. The employed get their boost in looking down on the unemployed; those that have neither or get their boost through their sexual prowess or fighting ability and the like. You can call it positive reinforcement.
This manifestation of inferiority has become divisive and destructive to us as a people. We don’t seek to elevate each other; we seek to be elevated over one another. Psychologically we’ve been so mind-fucked and blinded by the illusion of equality that we don’t see the damage in behaving like crabs in a bucket. Pride shouldn’t be taken from the ability to rise higher than the lowest. Pride should be taken in an ability to rise higher than the highest. Our inability to rise higher than the highest is what drives our need to take pride in rising higher than the lowest which results in being content with where we are. We don’t drive ourselves to rise higher than the highest because we’ve accepted the idea that we can’t raise that high. The use of terms like “ghetto” and “nigga” when spoken in self-loathing and derogatory manners to describe other groups of black people allow us to be content with being “better” than what we perceive to be the worst which kills our drive to go any higher.
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