Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
Someone told me today that in order to connect to young people, I can’t go bashing violent, destructive rappers, many of whom have become their heroes. They said that by speaking plainly about the horrible messages that our kids consume everyday, I might alienate those kids who’ve become convinced that men like Lil Wayne (who has been locked up more times than I can count, and honestly may be dying) are their true role models.
I said this to my friend:
1) I’m not bashing rappers, because I love most of them. I love hip hop more than any other genre of music, and I didn’t even start listening to music until hip hop hit the scene. Rappers are also my brothers, and I show my love by encouraging them to consider the power of their messages. In fact, I dare say that I study the most ratchet music out there, and I actually enjoy a lot of it. I don’t appreciate the destructive message, but just like eating greasy, fattening food, there is a joy we get from expressing ourselves without restraints. So, rather than presenting myself as the dietitian who pretends that he hates chocolate cake, I am the guy who says, “Look, I know you love this stuff and I love some of it too. But we have to think about what this is doing to our bodies.”
The same is true for digesting toxic messages. Sure, creative expression without any consideration for social responsibility is a lot of fun. But we can’t simply allow our desire for a good party to make us forget that we have rappers that are hypnotizing young kids to believe that “if a n*gga makes you mad, you need to blow his g*ddamn brains out.”
2) If someone is teaching your child things that are going to put him in prison or the morgue, you are responsible for your child’s demise if you choose to keep your mouth shut. I’m a parent, just like most of the people reading this message. I have to be honest and say that my kids DO NOT listen to hardly anything I say. The same hood culture that dominates the psyches of disadvantaged kids has also sunk into the brains of my own, with various degrees of impact. So, the way I keep myself calm while having those wretchedly difficult conversations is that I know that even if they go out into the world and make dumb decisions because of these negative influences, they can never say, “my father didn’t warn me.” Being honest, that’s about all a parent can do.
My mama didn’t tell me the things I WANTED to hear and neither did the father who raised me. They told me what I NEEDED to hear, and that’s why I’m not writing this message from a prison cell. I didn’t listen to them as much as I should have, as no kid does. But as I got older and started to realize what kind of man I wanted to be, those messages became more and more relevant with each passing day.
My note for the hard-working parents seeking to raise their kids above the BS is simple: DON’T-GIVE-UP and keep on having those difficult conversations. It’s not easy for any of us.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Commercialized Hip-Hop: The Gospel of Self Destruction.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.