Wise up, Part III:
Our Resolution for 2003?
No More.. Hypocrisy
University of California, Irvine
As always, I'd like to begin by offering peace and respect to all souljahs in the struggle -especially in times like these, where life for many is threatened by war; war overseas, war in the streets, and personal wars of the soul. We really are all in the same struggle, and at its core, the struggle is for our preservation …it really is a matter of life or death, and as a culture, it's time we started thinking in these terms.
On the way from my class one fateful Wednesday night, I turned on my radio and heard the news of Jam Master Jay's murder. Like every one else I'm sure, I was in shock and reeling. It took me immediately back to my childhood; growing up in Virginia, going to all their tours that came to the Norfolk Scope or the Hampton Coliseum …from Krush Groove to Raising Hell. Then it brought me back to my life now, and how devastated I would be if I lost my husband and my two young sons lost their father. My heart felt heavy…as it still does whenever I hear a Tupac or Biggie song. The question that inevitably crosses one's mind at news like this is… why?
Well, I want to offer one possible answer to that question, in hope of maybe beginning the much-needed dialogue on what we as a people want for ourselves, our culture, our future, and our legacy. Hip hop today seems to be searching for meaning, while simultaneously spinning its wheels in battles and beefs. We are at the crossroads, and as it was for the bluesmen before us, it’s a matter of saving or selling our collective soul. As Aaliyah said, we need a resolution, and I hope the time is now.
In the natural world, it is understood that you "reap what you sow." But for some reason, in the social world, we believe that we can create a different reality from the one we sow. We plant seeds of hate, but expect to be loved. We plant seeds of prejudice and inequality, but expect the world to be fair. We say we love our children, but our actions show differently when we neglect them, abuse them, and hurt them. We say we are the faithful that promote love and non-judgement, but we condemn all "others" to hell. We say we want our Earth to be beautiful and clean, but we throw trash out of our car windows on the road. We say we want an education, but we don’t go to class. We say stop the violence, but we perpetuate violence on and off wax, under the guise of hip hop. And when the system awards us for our nihilism (in the form of Grammy's etc.), we make sure to thank God in our acceptance speeches.
Hypocrisy is what humanity has created, and to be sure this is nothing new, or particular to hip hop. This society, like many of its predecessors, was built on hypocrisy, and unfortunately, its very existence as a powerful nation depends on it. So for the status quo power structure, this hypocrisy serves it well. To maintain power, we all are sold a lie; the myth that life is arbitrary; that we can construct any type of social existence we want without material repercussions. While hip hop falls into the same trap as all of humanity, hypocrisy hurts our progress particularly, while still favoring the interest of the status quo - hence we become victims of the proverbial catch 22…
In a system that gives us so few options, we have made choices that have benefited us while hurting us simultaneously. For example, artists find they can sell more records by degrading life, others, and themselves. And for that realization, they have achieved unparalleled monetary gains. But these gains have come with a high cost. One cost has been progress. The very things helping some are hurting many others. Our youth learn that the gangsta, pimp, and drug dealer lifestyles will help them make the money they so desperately need to survive this cold system, but it is these same elements that kill our youth before they have even lived. So while I understand why many make the choices they make to better their personal situations and that of their families, I hope we can learn that becoming a community IS the answer to our catch-22 dilemma; individualism and competition only serves the status quo.
With the latest murders of Jam Master Jay and Merlin Santana of The Steve Harvey Show, it is becoming crystal clear that the biggest cost of the hypocrisy we live is life itself…our very existence. Our seeds of today have learned from society that they are not valued. Then through choices we've made as a culture, we reinforce the lie by becoming a part of the problem through flip lyrics and risky behavior. Hip hop beefs today may sell records or magazines, but recent history has also taught us that they can take lives too - no one is exempt. Hip Hop must decide NOW whether it wants to make the same mistakes others before it have made… by gaining the world (at least as its audience) …but losing its soul.
Again, what we need to ask is: what do want for ourselves, our culture, our future, and our legacy? Do we want our gains to come from other's loss? Our success to depend on other's failures? Our joys based on others' pains? Our respect dependent on the disrespect of others? Our freedom at the expense of others bondage? Hypocrisy breeds the former.
Or do we want to live according to universal law? Reap what we sow? Treat others how we want to be treated? Give respect and get respect? Love to be loved? Live and let live? And in our decisions, we must always remember that what we want and what we do cannot be contradictory. Because in the end, universal law rules us all; we all reap what we sow…it really is as simple as that. Denial does not change that reality.
We need to understand that life has a purpose, in that, if nothing else, it must be lived. We need to do our best to live life honestly and righteously. My message never changes: it is not enough to say you RESPECT LIFE, we must LIVE that respect. Remember that, life is the most important gift from our Creator from which everything flows…blessings, experiences, struggles, triumphs and most importantly, love… And when we put our best into each moment that we live, then we are truly giving God the best thanks that we can give (from poet Amanda Bradley).
R.I.P Jam Master Jay… Live in Peace (L.I.P.) to us all. Jah live…One love.
If you knew what life was worth, you would look for yours on Earth…now you see the light…stand up for your rights… Life is your right, so we can't give up the fight - Bob Marley
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