Today, the government joins the rest of us in acknowledging the greatness, the contributions, the struggles, the culture, and the heritage of African descendants living here in the U.S. The struggles of people from the African diaspora living here in the United States have intensified since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 there has been a line drawn in the sand between the majority and the majority. Although, the diaspora out numbers every other culture across the globe we are not present in the places that make this world go round. People of African heritage have always been excluded from certain places and spaces, including Hip Hop. The culture is only forty-some-odd years old but the music industry is over 500 years old, so our people have been outsiders longer than they’ve been insiders. After being kicked out of Rock, drugged out of Jazz, and bled out of the Blues we are now being monetized out of Hip Hop. In over forty years Dr. Dre and Jay Z are the first Hip Hop billionaires in 2014, not because they weren’t business minded but because they were left out of major deals and decisions about a product they created.
Having just one of us excluded is unfair. Through hundreds of years of mental bondage and breakdown some of us don’t even like being in the room if a white person isn’t present, because you know his water is wetter and better. We turn to each other and say, “we need them” or “we need allies” as if we can’t be our own allies. Afro-Latinos, Afro-Asians, Africans, Afro-Brits, Indigenous peoples, Native Americans, and Samoans are those allies if we acknowledge each other’s struggles across continents. If we exclude them and stop equating the Holocaust to the Trans-Continental Slave Trade and recognizing that our struggle is an experience that is exclusive to us and it has a direct effect on our lives and how this world operates economically. When a Rapper signs a 360 deal they are excluded from monies that would otherwise belong to them. The NFL is purposefully excluding Hip Hop from a major global platform. Exclusion can be disguised in so many ways and we haven’t picked up anything from those excluding us.
Some people from the diaspora want inclusion so bad that they are willing to change the way they look with bleaching cream, the clothes they wear, who they marry, and lose their cultural identity in the process. History has shown us what happens when assimilation goes wrong; ask Orenthal James, ask Ben Carson, ask Steve Harvey, and the rest of the men who thought they were standing next to the right white guy. Isn’t Dr. Dre standing next to…and don’t forget Funk Flex standing next to Lyor Cohen. Who was looking out for 2 Chainz when Ariana Grande released her most recent video? Who was looking out for J. Cole during the Grammy nominations last year? Who was looking when Future was addicted to drugs? Who was looking out for Hip Hop when Bhad Bhabie and Tekashi69 signed their record deals? However, wanting exclusion is a whole other discussion.
“Distorted self-image, we set up to fail.” – J. Cole (Middle Child)