Since even before the motion picture ‘Birth Of A Nation’ debuted this country, hell, Western civilization for that matter, has promoted the notion that the African male is a supernatural demon. The idea has been incorporated into children’s holiday folklore like the story of our friend, Zwarte Piet, and it finds itself in media and publications dating back as early as the 16th century.
I would surmise that the ascension of capitalism on the whole is intertwined with the objectification and degradation of the Black male. It works on many different levels and it serves these dual purposes equally well. Firstly, when the resources of Africa were being plundered and the indigenous peoples were being subjugated and colonized, how were the colonists to justify their supposed Christian ideals for historical sake if they did not demonize the African? How do you justify theft, rape and outright murder in the prism of religion? You can if you make the victim the devil.
I am fast forwarding the discussion to the present tense because the same vein of persecution is administered throughout Western civilization’s popular culture. Black men are still portrayed as the hounds from Hell (no Michael Vick) who require an exorcism in order to accept the values of society. This is a theme repeated ad nauseam in contemporary music when the only stories relating to a Black man’s life describe violence from insufferable poverty. Worse than the violence that is alluded to in contemporary culture is the actual apathy that is encouraged through visual and audio media. No one else in the U.S., other than poor people, are cultivated to seek contentment when shit is so fucked the fuck up. Even pigs leave the mud sometimes, don’t they?
I have to bear some of the blame for the negative image of Black men. I am partly responsible for this due to some of the poor decisions that I made when I was a teenager. But, what comes first? The young, uninformed mind, or a multi-billion dollar campaign of misinformation that persuades young people to eschew the values of education, honesty and community? I agree that individual responsibility MUST be a component for us to restore our communities in 2008 and beyond, but EVERYONE must accept their responsibility for this change, including the children that profit from the system of supremacy.
Reshaping the content delivered by entertainment companies is long overdue anyhoo. Can we create a form of capitalism that doesn’t require exploitation and deprecation? Can we wrest the creation of art from the control of corporations? Art should not equal entertainment without education. Why must education and entertainment remain mutually exclusive propositions? These are the questions that we have to solve in 2008. If not then, when? If not us, who? The Black community is still filling prisons and morgues faster than schools and we ALL must work to stem this tide.
The BoogieMan says…
Go in on this Newsweek article linked below.