On Genuine Debate and Other Fiascos
Last week on inauguration day, two related and interesting things occurred:
1. Rapper Lupe Fiasco, a known critic of the Obama Administration, was escorted from stage by security after a 30-minute rendition of “Words I Never Said.” Although Lupe’s position on Obama are relatively well-known to those who can conduct a basic Google search, concert planners saw fit to invite him to perform at this pre-inauguration show, wherein he said things like “Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist,” he raps. “Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say [expletive]. That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either. I’m a part of the problem; my problem is I’m peaceful.” Despite the relatively common knowledge that Lupe doesn’t vote and is not a fan of BHO, folks came down on Lupe sort of hard, ranging from questioning his sanity to chastising him for not respecting the President.
2. Yet again, those, such as myself, who took the inauguration as an opportunity to critique Obama’s choice to place his hand on the Bible of a man who promoted peace and to remind folks of just what kind of change they believed in, got slapped not only with the hater card, but with a counterargument that aligned us with some of those conservatives who employ racist language to dismiss Mr. Obama. On some classic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type game, black folks, such as myself, who aren’t all that crunk about Destination Forward were essentially told that we were no better than racist white conservatives who, for their own set of racist reasons, aren’t all that excited about the journey, either.
Now, I ain’t Lupe. I’m just a lowly blogger with one weekly shot not to embarrass myself. Something I usually fail at. But one thing I know for sure: the last four years in the peanut gallery ain’t been no crystal stair. And the response to Lupe, which was a mix of “He should’ve known where he was and acted accordingly” and “How dare he disrespect MY president” and “That dude is crazy” shows just how little room their is for critique. The dismissive and, frankly, plain wrong assertion that black progressives are critical of the same figure that white conservatives are critical of and therefore need to check themselves shows the rather absurd lengths folks will go to not to listen to what’s being said.
I’m a hater. But I hate because in some cases love is, indeed, blind. And I’m trying to see beyond the blackness of the bodies that occupy the White House. If folks want to comfort themselves with being enamored with lesser evils, with posting the actions of Republicans to feel better about who they voted for, OK. This is like the black dude on Jeopardy! winning times a billion. I get that. Rep your set. Claim it for all that it’s worth. But be honest about what that set is doing, how, and why. Most importantly, when folks talk about what’s being done and at the expense of whom, maybe the clap back should be less about how the critics are haters and more actual counterargument that would compel us to reconsider our positions rather than further entrench ourselves. If the man is who his supporters say he is, it shouldn’t be that hard.