Killer Rap

I once had a childhood friend of mine who got into a normal childhood fight with me in front of my parents’ home probably in the late 1980s.

My friend and I probably got into an argument over sports or something trivial and he hauled off and socked me in the face.

That friend of mine, at the time, had become a big New Kids on the Block fan much like many children during the late 1980s.

Still to this day, I hear New Kids on the Block music from time to time especially since they have embarked on several successful reunion tours.

Never once have I stabbed a person to death in the neck because they listened to New Kids on the Block.

“Hangin’ Tough” by the New Kids is not my favorite song in the world, but I do not dislike it enough to kill someone over it.

Nevertheless, on more than one occasion African-American kids have found themselves the victims of a senseless murder because a random White person disliked rap music.

Last Thursday, Michael Adams, 27, killed 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin in a Circle K parking lot in Peoria, Ariz. because the young Black teenager had the nerve to be listening to rap music in his own vehicle.

Adams, a White man, said that rap music makes him feel unsafe because people who listened to rap music in the past had attacked him.

For a White person to use that type of rationale to justify killing an innocent Black child is both absurd and extremely hypocritical as if White people who listen to country, bluegrass, heavy metal or EDM music have not attacked Black people.

Just like some White people have some horror stories about negative interactions with Black people, just as many Black people have horror stories about negative interactions with White people.

But I doubt any such excuses a Black person makes as to why they killed a White person would hold much weight in the court of law like it has for non-Black people.

Years ago during a filming of an episode of my talk show “Regal Roundtable” dealing with the death of Trayvon Martin, one of the guests on the show said that George Zimmerman had justification to confront and shoot Martin because many neighbors had their houses broken into by a Black male wearing a hoodie.

Martin famously donned a hoodie on the night of his tragic death.

The fact that Black people wearing a hoodie had committed crimes in the past made all Black people in hoodies criminals, apparently.

But like a lot of people, Black and White, I have had White people steal from me.

I doubt I could get away with murdering a White person because some other random White person broke in and stole my stuff.

If that would not work as a defense for me if my victim were White, then it should not work as a defense for a White person.

Like Al-Amin, Jordan Davis, also 17, sat in a private car listening to loud music with his friends in a gas station parking lot in 2012.

Michael Dunn, a White man, thought the music coming from the car was too loud.

Therefore, he fired some even louder gunshots killing Davis.

Luckily, a judge sentenced Dunn to life without parole for first-degree murder in 2014.

But in many cases involving a White shooter and a young Black victim, it seems as if the outcome goes in the other direction.

From the inception of America, White America has often seen Black men as violent and vicious animals that need to be tamed.

When White artists put out vulgar music or gangster movies, America often sees it as just entertainment or art imitating life.

When Black hip-hop artists did the same thing, especially a couple of decades ago, many rappers were seen as threats to society and the downfall of what made America so great.

If I told a cop that New Kids on the Block music made me feel unsafe, they would have laughed me off the block.

If I told a cop or a judge, that I killed a random White kid because one of my White peers stole from me in eighth grade I would be under the jail.

And if I told a judge that I suffered from some form of mental illness like extreme depression, I still would get an extreme prison sentence.

Excuses often work for White people in American courtrooms.

However, there often is no excuse for a Black person accused of a crime no matter how plausible their defense is.

“Michael Adams walked up to a Black teen, Elijah Al-Amin, as he stood at the soda machine and slit his throat b/c he felt threatened by the music he listened to in his car,” tweeted Kristen Clark, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 

The Human Rights Campaign wrote, “We must call this what it is—a hate crime—and demand a thorough investigation at the highest level.”

And a hate crime is just what I, or any other Black person would have gotten charged with, if we said that Justin Timberlake music made us so unsafe that we had to kill one of his fans listening to the “Man of the Woods” album.

To put it bluntly, hip-hop culture is code for Black culture.

If someone attacks and kills someone because they feel unsafe with hip-hop, what they are really saying is that they killed because Black people make them unsafe and uncomfortable.

But what about the safety of Black people in America?

I guess it is implausible to think that White people could be a serious and violent threat to Black people.

But when the shoe is on the other foot it becomes so believable.


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