Kendrick Lamar’s recent comments about respectability politics in the Black community sparked twitter outrage and a war of words amongst several of his Hip Hop contemporaries. I weigh in on the situation. Enjoy!
“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s fucked up,” Kendrick Lamar says. “What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”
This is the kind of foolish remark that racists and the brainwashed LOVE! Somehow the Black community lacks respect for themselves and therefore it is then justifiable to kill and or disrespect us? In a nutshell this is Kendrick’s logic. What qualifies as respecting myself as a Black man? Wearing suits and ties all the time? Not listening to rap music? Not watching music videos? Going to college? Getting a job? Well what if I do none of these things is my life less valuable? What constitutes respect to him is not what respect means to me and I don’t qualify it by arbitrary criteria or vague blanket statements that sound pseudo-intellectual. The politics of respectability is plaguing our ability to see one another as truly equal because we are all humans. My respect for anyone is not predicated on his or her race, class, color, or creed. I simply respect them because they are human. It is only when we start using respect as a means of justification for the continued subjugation, marginalization, and murdering of others, do we run into trouble. Kendrick Lamar’s comments on the Ferguson situation are tantamount to the KKK and other brainwashed people who bring up the fact that Trayvon Martin had marijuana in his system to covertly imply that his alleged drug use is linked to his killing. A more contemporary case of this respectability talk is the media and racist accounts of how Tamir Rice’s father had a criminal record as if somehow that had anything to do with him being murdered.
Kendrick Lamar’s sentiments about Black respectability will undoubtedly come back to haunt him when his words will be used as justification of racist ideology when the next unarmed Black person is killed or hurt by police. It’ll probably read something like this; “Unarmed African American teen shot by officers during random bag search.” Rapper Kendrick Lamar has weighed in on the issue in the past saying, “What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within,” in regards to the recent killings of unarmed Black folks at the hands of police officers.” By the time Kendrick realizes what has been done it will be too late and we will have countless anonymous and public figures quoting and touting him as one of our own who agrees with the murdering of Black folks at the hands of police officers. We all need to be more mindful of what we say and how it can unwittingly promote an insidious agenda that does more to undo us than bring us together.
Nobody is ok with violence in the Black community and we are certainly not ok with those who are sworn to serve and protect us, killing us in cold blood. Kendrick Lamar’s statements on Ferguson falsely represents the idea that the Black community only rallies and is outraged by violence when it comes from the hands of police and not so much when it comes from the hands of the citizens of the community. This is far from the truth and we need to not explain away these things by putting the onus on Black folks and their lack of respect for themselves as a weird justification for why we are gunned down.