There are two parts to this posting. The first part is an email you will read that was posted to the Minneapolis Issues List. The Minneapolis Issues List is a list that deals with political, social, community issues in the city. Every elected official from the city of Minneapolis either actively watches and posts to the list or has staff that watches the list for him/her. Anyone who is a player in Minneapolis political circles also is enaged with or at least knows about the list. More than once I have been at a mixer or a political event and someone has read my name tag and mentioned that he or she has heard of me through the Issues Forum. Most of the time the list is peppy and engaging with some heated exchanges. In the last couple of days, there have been a series of crazy postings by white folks living in north Minneapolis (heart of the black community). One of the latest posts by a white man who also happens to be an idiot, basically showed his racism by pigeonholing all folks wearing hip hop style dress as drug dealers, gang bangers, and theives. Me being me I called him on his shit.
The first email you are going to read is a response to my email to Jim Graham by a woman name Megan Goodmundson. The only good thing about her is that I have never met her and I hope to never meet her. My response to her follows her email:
Let's just cut the ultra-liberal hug-a-thug b.s. that contributes to the dysfunction of our inner cities across America. Jim Graham's categorization of dress or demeanor is not racism - it's behaviorism - behavior is not a 'protected class' but rather a main tool in our society for expressing and communicating one's own character out loud to fellow human beings, and for other's to receive that communication and presentation of the type of character and human being one is professing to the world. Jim should be in no way shape or form, shamed for being brave enough to make an outloud reality based statement, and the shaming that is taking place is part of the ultra-politically-correct environment that allows criminals to be shielded from society's policing of norm's and value's that shape appropriate behavior and discourage harmful, inappropriate and dangerous behavior. If Jim was 'racist' I highly doubt he is going to choose to live in a highly diversified neighborhood, as i t would just eat away at his soul.Let it be very clear - the over sized white tee shirt phenomenon is another one of those hip-hop glorification of gangster life style. The white tee shirt was embraced by street thugs that wanted to be non-descript to law enforcement. It was/is the street thugs choice of clothing because when a large majority of men wearing over sized white tee's are walking the streets of a neighborhood and one of them is engaging in criminal activity - there is very little to describe that person to authorities and distinguish them from every one else. Just sort of their own little way of getting a jab in at law enforcement. Sort of a ha-ha whatcha-gonna do now type statement. Some where along the line, like hip hop culture often does, a criminal life style element is embraced by non-criminals and glorified, for whatever reason. There are many styles within a hip hop culture and each and every person should know that if you choose to look, act, dress and behave like a street thug, you are going to be treated like a street thug. It's your choice to do so, so be fully aware that you will be judged on your dress, style and demeanor so don't complain about it later. I could go on and on about the destruction of hip hop culture on the young demographics - the degradation of women, the glorification of criminal life style - the music videos with guns, drugs etc, the celebration of a promiscuous life style. Or the video I saw with the lyrics and action shots that were all about 'we don't sell drugs, we just rob the drug dealers at gun point and that's how we make our hustle'. It should not be celebrated, glorified or promoted and the continuation to do so is probablly the most destructive thing working against the youth of our urban neighborhoods. Neighbors like Jim G. who encounter people walking by or driving by will often sense some sort of energy or vibe of what that person is eminating off in to the universe, and a gut-feeling helps us sense that this is an OK person, this is a suspicious person, etc. That is our in-born instinct to help us survive. To all the hip-hop lovers that are going to be offended - Don't waste energy for calling out someone who speaks out of reality, put that energy into developing young hip-hop lovers into the styles of hip-hop that do not glorify and celebrate the criminal element. And warn them that certain outward appearances and practices are going to work against them and be extremely hard to overcome and that is the hard reality of our world today, so don't burden yourself with more obstacles to overcome, but rather engage in the types of dress and demeanor that are going to scream out loud "I am an upstanding character".
And now for my response, fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlepeeps:
You haven't even the remotely slightest clue as to what you are speaking about. I mean not even the teeniest little margin or concept of even a relational truth to hip-hop culture. Hip-hop culture does NOT equal gangster culture. While there are interactions between the two because of the very real various survival expressions that exist at the street level, to equate one with the other is to equate....beets and cranberries...they may look the same on the Thanksgiving table but the style, substance, and flavor are completely different.
Your statements again are a majoritarian racist conception of a liberation theology that you just don't understand.You want to know real hip hop and how real hip hop is changing lives....check out Toki Wright and YO! The Movement right here in Minneapolis. You want to talk about real hip hop. Check out local queer hip hop artist Tori Fixx who is nationally known and his hip hop challenges misogyny, heterosexisms, homophobia...you want to talk about real hip hop, let's talk about old school Queen Latifah singing about UNITY, lets't talk about RUN DMC and Jam Master Jay, let's talk about local artists Dessa Darling and DOOMTREE, you want to talk about real hip hop, LEARN THE HISTORY OF HIP HOP on the streets of the Bronx and Brooklyn rappers and artists talking about liberation, talking about getting out of the hood and making something of themselves or staying in the hood and making the hood a place to live. You want to talk about real hip hop talk about B-Girl B at Intermedia Arts that celebrates the influence of women in hip hop and the way it shapes, reshapes and celebrates women's lives. Let's talk about the Hip Hop Congress a national political organization aimed at radically reshaping the politics of this country by enganging young people.
You haven't the slightest awareness or clue one about what you are talking about. But you are showing a woeful committment to ignorance that borderlines on a willfully chosen racist dullness that is shameful.
In the late 80s and early 90s when commercialism and CAPITALISM decided they could make a dollar off of bastardizing hip hop, gangsta rap emerged. That was never about a people's movement or hip hop that was about making a dollar for largely white owned West coast music labels. And even with that, there were still hip hop resisters like TuPac Shakur that talked cogently about his life growing up on the streets, the reality of his mother who was a crackhead, and how even in the heart of all that pain, subjugation, degredation, and oppression there could still be beauty. Let me be clear, attempting to talk about, pigeonhole, and add behavioral judgements based on superficial outward appearances that are linked ro race (whether you want to believe in race or not) is a key element of racism. If you are white, which adds power to the equation of race prejiduce, then, for sheezy, racism is showing its ugly face.
Before you attempt to post anything else to this list or speak anywhere else, make sure you know what you are talking about. It sucks to learn the hard way that you are talking out of the side of your neck. Or maybe, just maybe, you are having Janus moment, and one of your other faces decided to show itself.
-Brandon Lacy Campos