Callin’ Out Names: (Dis)Respect Your Elders

Callin’ Out Names will be resurrected at The Well Versed. Until 10.10.10, here’s a stroll down memory lane.

From Hip Hop DX

September 03, 2007 | Anthony Springer Jr

With the state of Black America sinking further into the depths of all things negative, many people like to invoke the spirits of Martin Luther King and El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz when decrying the foolishness, ignorance, violence and minstrel show like behaviors that plague our news headlines on a daily basis.

I have no doubt that Martin and Malcolm are in their graves, masterfully executing three somersaults and a back flip that rival the best Olympic gymnast seeing how far we’ve regressed since their untimely, tragic deaths.

Both men would likely chastise everything from the spectacle that is Flavor Flav, the rampant materialism and misogyny in Hip Hop culture, and the piss poor education our children (of all races) receive today.

And while Martin and Malcolm would have plenty to say to the Hip Hop Generation, I believe most of their fury would be directed at those who walked with them. Men whom, by default picked up the once vibrantly lit torch of social justice, vowing to carry on the fight for racial equality.

The new “black leaders,” however, did little more than lead us on a one way, all expense paid, first class trip to Nowhere, USA.

I’m speaking of none other than Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton.

While Martin and Malcolm remain distant memories to many, Jackson and Sharpton have forcefully carved out niches of nothingness disguised as social crusades.

2007’s target? Rap lyrics.

These two, due to either sheer bull headedness or ignorance refuse to see the big picture. The Hip Hop community at large has dismissed both men as irrelevant ambulance chasers. However, due to lack of intelligent sound bites or the ease at which Jackson and Sharpton issue comments, the media has kept these two men relevant, while at the same time dismissing them in a similar way that Hip Hop has.

Paging Michael Eric Dyson.

We need look no further than the last couple of months to understand that either these two men have no one advising them, or surround themselves with crews full of “yes men and women.”

Al Sharpton recently drew fire from Mississippi emcee David Banner. In an interview, Banner chided Sharpton for his inability to act on important issues of the day, opting instead to focus his efforts on the type of language rappers use.

“The next time you see Al Sharpton, tell him I said f*ck him and he can suck my di*k,” Banner said during the interview. “I might change the name of my album from ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’ to ‘F*ck Al Sharpton.’ I hate Al Sharpton. This is the kind of sh*t that I’m talking about. They’re killing kids in New Jersey and all across the country and all a ni**a got to talk about is rap lyrics? F*ck that about they’re our elders and we gotta respect them. I’m tired of this. They’re like the parents, but the parents are crucifying the kids.”

Sharpton’s failed to address Banner directly, but issued a statement via his organization that was just as childish as the comment that began this war of words. In true political fashion, Sharpton went the route of the clever sound bite, completely ignoring Banner’s point.

“From time to time we do encounter people that have sexual fantasies about Reverend Al Sharpton, but they are always women and Crump’s (Banner) proposition is a first,” the statement read “However, in keeping with the National Action Network’s Decency Initiative, I am sure Rev. Sharpton would not call Crump the ‘N’ ‘B’ or ‘H’ word. And, despite Crump’s personal request, I am sure Reverend Sharpton would not call him a faggot. He would just pray for him.”

Sharpton’s half Yo Momma, half  “turn the other cheek” response undoubtedly garnered praise from his core fan base, but his failure to address the issue at hand further illustrates that Sharpton’s days of being socially relevant (if they ever existed to begin with) are long gone.

Unfortunately, Al’s shorter haired counterpart, Jesse Jackson offers no alternative. Like Sharpton, Jackson completely misses the mark when it comes to matters of the Hip Hop Generation.

Jackson pulled a Cingular/AT&T on us, rolling over the momentum from the Imus controversy to language in Hip Hop in the same manner that Sharpton did, but garnered significantly less press in the process.

His latest target: Black Entertainment Television’s new animated short, “Read a Book”. The song’s author, Washington, D.C. based spoken word artist Bomani “D’Mite” Armah used the satirical piece to wax poetically about the importance of literacy, good hygiene and wealth building.

Jackson simply couldn’t see past lines like “Read a book, read a book, read a muthafuckin book… buy some land, buy some land, fuck spinning rims” and on his August 26 radio show, Jackson compared the track to the behavior of Don “nappy headed ho” Imus and Michael “he’s a nigger” Richards. Jackson’s failure to grasp the satirical nature of the song and accompanying video concept AFTER Armah appeared on Jackson’s show to explain it is nothing short of mind boggling.

Al and Jesse’s missteps concerning Hip Hop would take days to list. Days I don’t have, and days that could be better spent talking about issues that deserve the attention of someone designated as a “leader.”

Like The Jena 6

Like police brutality.

Like disparities in our public education system.

If a rapper’s use of the word “bitch” on a record is the issue of the day, the Civil Rights Generation has truly lost the battle, the torch for righteousness extinguished by the ice cold waters of two men’s addiction to spotlight.

The rift between the Civil Rights and Hip Hop Generation’s are rooted in age old conflicts between the old and new, parent and child, and pupil/teacher relationships.

But something is different this time around. Hip Hop is no longer a baby infant. Hip Hop is all grown up and after reaching the age of majority, demands to be treated as an adult.

Respect or the lack of is at the helm of this war of words.

To be fair, certain individuals within the Hip Hop community are responsible for resurrecting and furthering an agenda of social and intellectual genocide. While these individuals are backed by major corporations run by people who typically don’t look like the rappers on TV, the agenda remains in black face, even if some of us know better.

Continuing down the road of fairness, members of the Civil Rights Generation cannot fathom how their children shamelessly promote, glorify and push forth negative stereotypes that many people died trying to eradicate. To our forefathers (and mothers), the pervasive use of “nigga,” “bitch,” and “ho” coming from the mouth of babes is a simultaneous stab in the back and slap in the face. The case can be made that the sting of the disrespect is much worse than the power of a water hose or the snapping of a noose around the neck.

With Jackson and Sharpton at the helm of this new crusade for moral decency, the chances that either side will wave the white flag and come to the table are as likely as one person hitting the lottery… in all 50 states.

Both men have made two grave mistakes, which leave the options for dialogue between old and new in critical condition. Jackson and Sharpton refuse to treat the Hip Hop community as fully functioning adults, opting for a verbal scolding whenever someone says action, as though rappers are little more than children on a playground.

Jackson and Sharpton have also failed to take cues from Min. Louis Farrakhan, who won over the hearts of rappers in the 90’s by arranging face to face meetings with artists to air out issues or resolve conflicts, with or without the media present.

Farrakhan respects Hip Hop

Jackson and Sharpton do not. As a result, they get no respect from Hip Hop.

Maybe one day, the crusaders will take a page a page from Farrakhan’s book and call for a meeting of the minds between the rappers they take issue with instead of the on going shuck and jive routines for media outlets that don’t care about them… or Hip Hop.

Until then, will somebody remind Al and Jesse that there are no children here?

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