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Break it down for me!?

Corretta Scott King passed away on January 31, 2006 just fifteen days after MLK Day. For me, MLK Day passed uneventfully. It was unfortunately just another day the banks and post offices were closed. But Mrs. King's passing stirred some emotions in me and inspired some thoughts and concerns about MLK Day.

I am a white guy. Milky white. When I was growing up, there were only four or five African-American kids in my entire school, and I knew all of them, but my childhood was about as "white bread" as you can get.

These days, I suppose I am what many African-American "gangstas" in the "hood" or pseudo-gangstas in the middle class or the suburbs fashionably and commonly refer to as a "cracker" or "honky." Especially in "hip-hop" settings. Thankfully, my "cracker" parents were wise beyond our surroundings. I never heard the word "nigger" in our house. My dad coached my little league baseball team and he was the only coach that ever drafted African-American kids my age. We watched the TV version of Alex Haley's "Roots" and were captivated and shamed by it. When I heard the word "nigger" in public or at school it always stung me personally, obviously not as a personal affront to me but as an instance of meanness and hateful ignorance. And even though I have a Southern drawl that would probably fit in at any KKK meeting, I was a lucky "cracker" who grew up without the terrible baggage of racism.

I married a beautiful African-American woman. Some folks where I grew up might call her a mulatto or "zebra." Some folks from where I grew up did tell me that my marriage was simply wrong. My favorite aunt said she had no problem with my wife, but she wouldn't want that for one of her sons. A co-worker politely said whom I married was my business and he was happy for me, but that he personally didn't believe in interracial marriage.

I love my wife and kids, but there's no getting around the fact that my children will be different, discriminated against and stereotyped. And some folks back home will call them "octoroons" or "white chocolate."

Mrs. King's passing moved me because it made me think of MLK's most famous speech, I Have a Dream. You see, my oldest "boyz" are only twelve (they're twins) and they're already prancing around our "crib" with their boxers pulled up and hanging out of their fashionably saggy pants. They say words (or letters?) like "G" and cultivate Ghetto-speak slang like 'bling, bling" and "pimpin" and "fo shizzle dizzle." And my seven-year-old daughter sings along with all the fornication innuendo-laced lyrics of every other hip-hop song. They're all on the verge of hip-hop juvenility and I have to tell you that even as an open-minded "cracker," I'm "illin."

My oldest children are about to go thru puberty enthralled by an African-American counterculture that celebrates the sexual degradation of women-women no different than Corretta Scott King or, for that matter, Rosa Parks; a subculture that attempts to dignify sexual lasciviousness, blatant chauvinism, children born and reared out of wedlock, African-American male egomaniacs (rapping mostly about themselves and how thug or hard or down they are), gun violence, ruthless greed ("Get Rich or Die Tryin"), absurd greed (flashy tire rims, dental "grills, "pimped" rides), questionable sports hero-worship (A.I., T.O., Kobe Bryant, etc.) and intellectual superficiality (hip-hop debases educated diction, scorns nonviolent conflict management, trivializes platonic relationships with women, etc.).

Please break it down for me. Am I just being an alarmist white guy? Am I just an out-of-touch "cracker" in my familial circle of interracial "peeps?" Is it wrong for me to criticize the cultural "skillz" of my "shortys?"

I try to be open-minded. I even try to be absent-minded. I just can't help but think that when MLK had a dream, this wasn't what he had in mind. He wouldn't have approved of hip-hop or the hip-hop lifestyle, music, videos, etc. He wouldn't have wanted young black women-potential Corretta Scott Kings or Rosa Parks's-depicted as "babymammas" or "hoes" or "hollaback" girls. He wouldn't have wanted young black women to be portrayed as promiscuous, flesh-baring sex objects to be coveted and collected frequently but fleetingly by young black "gangstas" or "pimps" anxious to bolster the their "cred." as a "player." He wouldn't have wanted young black men using or peddling drugs or settling their differences by "capping" each other with "gats." He wouldn't have wanted young black men and women branding themselves with trendy, "phat" tattoos. He wouldn't have wanted a chocolate New Orleans. Or Compton or Watts or Harlem; he'd have wanted an equal, respectful, harmonious, multiethnic New Orleans and Compton and Watts and Harlem.

Corretta Scott King's passing saddened me because it occurred to me that the voice of African-America is no longer her husband's. It's "Puffy" Combs' or P. Diddy's or Diddy's or Kanye West's or 50 Cent's. And they're speaking loud and proud but not really saying anything particularly meaningful. So, hey, all you "gangstas" and "homies" and "bruthas" and "sistas" ... I've got to front you up for a serious "piece of ear": Is it just me, whitey, or does almost everything hip-hop promotes make Martin Luther King, Jr. and everything he had a dream about look like the mumblings of a clueless Uncle Tom?

Break it down for me players, peeps, countrymen. Am I getting carried away, or should I just be "chillin?"

E. R. Bills (Ft. Worth, Texas). I have been inert for awhile. The prevailing currents of absurdity seemed insurmountable, so I whiled away the last decade in escapist debauch and clever nihilism. My blurry hiatus is over. The cultural and political landscape is repugnant, appalling and--as an American--terribly embarrassing. Camus always said a virtue unexercised is wasted. From this point this point forward, I will attempt virtuousness.
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Title Annotation:NEW POETRY et al; influence of hip hop culture on young African Americans
Author:Bills, E.R.
Publication:The American Dissident
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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