Are we living in the last days? If so, what are we doing about it? It seems the world is coming apart at the seams. The Muslims are attacking the Christians, the Christians are attacking the Muslims; Africa is under siege, the Earth is shaking, the United States is waging war on its African American citizens, but why are you surprised? Yes, we live in the land of the free and home of the brave and are still not equal. Now what? Do you think we can make people care about us before we can care about ourselves? I am proud to see our people finally coming together and standing as one unit. Now what?
Now that we all agree that we are not going to let anyone come into our communities and kill our people without a fight, we need to use the moment to improve who we are and how we are perceived. Our action plan has to include more than threatening a march, pointing a finger and waiting to see if the Department of Justice is going to convict officers for their crimes. That is a distraction. It’s more than tearing up buildings, throwing rocks and dancing in the street for minor victories. It’s not about being interviewed for your perspective on the problem of police brutality. It’s succeeding out loud. It’s about making our money speak for us.
It’s about going back to the drawing board to see what part we play in making America a better place for ourselves. The generation before us changed their status by getting educated, by changing their style of dress and their manner of communication. They outsmarted their opponent.
We have to change how we are living. Point blank. Stop fronting like these killings are not exposing a bigger problem. We can’t expect to be treated fairly when we don’t even treat each other fairly. We turn up our noses and look down on our own people the same way these cops and the rest of America does. We just don’t kill people in the exchange. We have become complacent with a part of the community that is underperforming.
Everybody is toting signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” but who are we trying to convince? The world around us or ourselves? My beef is while we are rallying for justice we are leaving out a few key factors that are necessary for growth and development. How are we jumping out in the streets fighting the establishment, but not changing how we spend our money? Why is that not #1 on the agenda?
Furthermore, if we are asking them to grow then we have to grow. We can’t spit in the face of our oppressor and then ask them to help us in the same breath. We have to have a plan for our own success.
We have to be real about the problem, because the same reason you are not marching through the hood and telling every drug dealer, murderer and criminal that they can’t occupy the hood and kill the babies, is the same reason these cops are on edge and quick to pull the trigger. Because there is a problem. I call it the Hip Hop Dilemma. You know that intense feeling you get when someone of the urban persuasion walks into your circumference. The feeling you get when you wait to see if they are a troublemaker, a fool or a Hip Hop musician. The feeling you get when you don’t want to confront this person because you don’t know if the response is going to be negative or lead to an altercation. This is the symptom of those suffering from the Hip Hop Dilemma. The cops are on the front lines dealing directly with this traumatizing experience and it is affecting their work performance.
If we work to change the narrative of who we are, what we stand for and how we live. The cops will have to change how they are policing our communities, because they won’t know who to profile, they won’t know who to arrest, because we all look like success. Sometimes we give the underperforming members of our community an excuse not to be the best they can be by leaning on white supremacy. It’s deeper than officers abusing the law, the war been going on and we have known it.
Our response looks like a horse and pony show because as soon as the cameras arrive everybody throws their capes on and swoops in for the rescue, but the community has been burning for years. Why does everything become more important when the TV camera arrives? I’m fighting for our everyone in our community to step up and be better. We have to eliminate the reasons they are stopping us in the first place. Change the game.
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay.