(Todd A. Smith)
Systemic racism is real.
But systemic racism is not killing Black rappers like Takeoff from Migos.
Housing discrimination exists.
But housing discrimination did not murder rapper PnB Rock.
Police brutality exists.
But police brutality did not kill rapper Pop Smoke.
I am the first person to call out White supremacy and systemic racism.
But systemic racism and discrimination is not responsible for all the problems in the Black community.
Sometimes, Black people are solely responsible for some of the problems in the Black community.
And the biggest problem, right now, is us killing us.
I do not like to use the term Black-on-Black crime because the media never mentions White-on-White crime and Hispanic-on-Hispanic crime.
And that is a shame because the numbers are similar.
Most murders occur at the hands of someone close to the victim like family members, friends or colleagues.
And unfortunately, America is still very segregated when it comes to the company people keep.
Therefore, most people are killed by someone of their own race.
Although I am concerned with the violence that occurs in other communities, I am more concerned with the violence that plagues my community, the Black community.
If your family member is sick or has a drug problem, I wish them the best and they would be in my prayers.
But I am going to care more about my family members in that predicament because, yes, I love them more than I love your relatives and loved-ones.
Therefore, I am going to care more when it is someone from my community versus someone from another community.
And anyone who says different is lying through their teeth.
With that said, it is time for the Black community to put just as much emphasis on the internal forces that are bringing about our demise as we do on the external forces.
Yes, we should say “Black Lives Matter” when police “lynch” innocent and unarmed Black people in the streets.
But we should say “Black Lives Matter” even louder when one of our brothers or sisters gets executed by one of our own.
For years, I have defended hip-hop artists when others criticized them for violent lyrics.
People often say that art imitates life.
But shouldn’t art also encourage people to change their lives in a positive way.
And why is it that Black music artists seem to be the only group promoting their own demise on records?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not remember Italian-American artists like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons promoting their ties to organized crime in their records.
Our community has a strange obsession with thuggery.
Our community has a strange obsession with selling dope.
Our community has a strange obsession with thinking getting shot is a badge of honor, while going to college is some nerd behavior.
I cannot tell people how many times I have sat in barbershops in the hood while people smiled as a customer bragged about having that work (aka dope).
I cannot tell you how many times I set in class in high school when classmates bragged about relatives doing time in the pen.
When a person talked about something intelligent, they often got ridiculed.
Personally, I must admit that I am obsessed with television shows and movies about the gangster lifestyle.
But why does it seem like every new show with a predominantly Black cast has to revolve around the streets?
Yes, the Hollywood machine plays a big part to play in that reality because maybe the powers-that-be refused to put out more positive Black content.
But if we as a people refuse to put out art that promotes our own genocide, what would the powers-that-be do?
If we stopped supporting so much violence in music, television and film, Hollywood would get the memo and give us what we want.
And no, I am not saying that Black people should pretend that the violence that exists in our community does not exist.
But there is something different between reporting on the issues in the community and promoting those negative issues.
For the longest, hip-hop has promoted violence and drugs like it is the thing to do.
However, Black men killing other Black men is not the thing to do.
Black men and women selling drugs to our young people is not the thing to do.
Spending the rest of your life in prison over dumb stuff is not the thing to do.
And while every adult is responsible for their own actions, entertainment and media can do a lot to set the right temperature in the community.
Certain songs at a family reunion make you feel good.
Certain songs at church lift your spirit.
So common sense should tell us that certain violent songs can put us in a dark and violent mood.
While many in the music industry think it would be impossible because of rap beefs, it is time for this generation to learn from the Stop the Violence Movement of the late 1980s, West Coast Rap All-Stars of the early 1990s or Black Men United of the mid 1990s and make a song about unity, stopping gang violence and lifting up the brothers and sisters in our community.
During that era, hip-hop still had gangsta rap songs.
But hip-hop had more variety.
If everything these kids hear is violent, we cannot be surprised if our communities stay violent.
But if we give them some hope and unity in the music, maybe that would lead to some much-needed hope and unity in a community that desperately needs it.