Last night Monday I stumbled across an article with the headline, “Man who had 30 kids with 11 women wants child-support break.” Of course the ethnicity of this father turned out to be Black. My first reaction to this story was a shaken head, because Black male bodies seem incapable of accountability. Missing fathers, no doubt, are common in Black family life, yet here we have a case of no limits.
While late to the game I fell in love with Issa Rae’s webseries, Awkward Black Girl, for its honest and hilarious interrogation of race and race relations via the lens of some very typical situations. From her humble approach to her daring showcasing of other talents (i.e. her rapping skills) I felt endeared to her struggles with dating, co-workers, and friends each episode. Watching the web show with my best friend or my aunt made the ‘Awkward Black Girl’ experience less…awkward and more…laughable and okay. However, reactions to Ms. Rae’s big win at the Shorty Award reveals that being Black is still awkward for some.
Last week I got a call from my mentor and friend Paradise Gray about my song, “Trayvon”(video below). He asked me what made me write the line, “George Zimmerman didn’t take his Ritalin”. I told him other than the fact that it rhymed, a person that would profile, stalk, and kill a young unarmed man he had never met, had to have some control issues. He then told me about the recent revelation that George Zimmerman was taking two perception drugs, Adderall and Temazepam, and that Adderall, like Ritalin is prescribed for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Amazingly, I haven’t seen a lot of press about this.
I thought this was very interesting considering the national conversation around whether or not Trayvon smoked marijuana. The right wing actually used Trayvon’s possible past marijuana use as justification for his murder. News that trace elements of THC was found in Trayvon’s system the night he was killed, had these right winged racists jumping for joy.
Although I sorta kinda spoke out against marriage last week, I’m not anti-coupling. In fact, sometimes linking up with another person yields gallons of awesomeness:
Jaden Smith and Justin Bieber, Doc Brown and Marty, Pinky and the Brain, Dre and Big Boi, Cephus and Reesie. ABC has decided to capitalize on this with its new reality show, Duets. The show pairs contestants with its celebrity judges, and they sing, well, duets. Seeing a commercial for the show got me thinking: With recent news headlines in mind, who needs to get together and sing a duet? Well, here are a few suggestions:
Trayvon Martin’s autopsy results reportedly show trace amounts of THC in his system at the time of his death. They also show that he was shot from close range, suggesting that a physical altercation occurred.
What the autopsy doesn’t explain is why he was stalked, harrassed, and murdered. Go figure.
The gay marriage debate is becoming incorrigibly annoying, and it’s starting to reveal just how completely out of touch mainstream media is with the broader populace. Poll after poll shows you that the country is becoming steadily more accepting of gay marriage, and this recent article from the Pew Research Center says that about half of Americans’ opinions of Obama didn’t really change after he made his
tepid controversial statement, with the rest being sort of split. And frankly, I can’t say I’m surprised. At the end of the day, people want jobs, they want to support their families, people want to end health disparities, over-crowded prisons etcetera etcetera etcetera. So, again to be frank, as much as I am for gay marriage, marriage is a privileged institution that would largely help more privileged mostly white, middle-class, gay couples. The fact that the media has so ardently embraced this discourse ultimately reveals that the media dictates the conversations it prioritizes and sensationalizes, rather than reflecting how the broader country actually feels about an issue.
Furthermore, the media discourse keeps projecting gay marriage as a black vs. white issue, or a liberal vs. conservative issue, but at the end of the day, it’s really an old folks vs. young folks issue.
It is no secret that hip hop can be one of the most oppressive art forms in the black community. Simultaneously, we also know that hip hop a history (of being) and potential (to be) empowering. Yet in the state we find it now, it tends to be a contradicting gray area, instead of a clear cut good or bad entity. Byron Hurts gives a nuanced analysis of masculinity and Hip Hop in his documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. The documentary begins by explaining the context of Hip Hip, how many believe that it “glorifies violence, misogyny, and homophobia” but also holds some type of realness [at one time] when it comes to telling the stories of black men. It is far too easy to label things with a right or wrong stamp. Hurt makes sure the viewer understands that this topic is not straightforward, in fact, it is actually complex, multi-layered, and defined by a dictating cultural influence.
While I never suffered abuse at the hands of my mother or father (she was more of a talker than anything and tried to get us to understand our bad behavior by grounding us and he insisted that he could not teach his son that it was wrong to hit girls if he spanked his daughters), I witnessed it all around me. Family and friends alike who would only speak of the abuse at their homes in the presence of other children, who thought their parents behavior normal. I didn’t recognize then that the things my playmates were enduring were dangerous. I didn’t understand that my friends were being abused and by the time I did come to understand it, I didn’t believe that it was my place to relay these stories to the adults in our lives who could have done something.