Assessing the Value OfBy William Reed
The Hip-Hop Generation
November 13 2002
The Cash Money motto is: "We got to drink 'til we throw up." Millions of African-American youth's primary pre-occupation is Cash Money's culture of being tattooed up, "iced" up and Rolexed up. The Cash Money Crew's pinky rings are platinum plus and their grills are all "slugged up."
In the late 1970's and early 1980's hip hop became the expression of a new generation squeezed between the fading promises of civil rights era policies and inner city blight spawned by Black middle class abandon. As this generation has advanced in age and, in some cases income, "Bling bling" - expensive jewelry, flashy SUVs, videos, and flamboyant fashions - became a mainstay of today's Black America's "Under 40" crowd. "Bling-bling-ism" is a dysfunctional trend we have toward material worship and self-indulgence.
Cash Money crew claim they're just celebrating the new wealth of poor inner city youth. In essence, their obsession with money, fascination with crime, and selfish indulgence signals gross absorption of mainstream psychology and social ethic. Despite millions of dollars flowing to and through the rap music industry, hip hop urban clothing businesses and gold-plated professional athletes, it goes to fuel violent causes, and not into support of strategies geared to empowering African-American capitalism.
A sensible rap song verse says: "These cats drink champagne to toast death and pain - like slaves on a ship talkin' 'bout who got the flyest chains." Hip-hoppers' disinterest in race consciousness illustrates their alienation from the civil rights generation. Too many bling-blingers proudly admit to being concerned only with sex and money. Although the Hip-Hop Generation includes middle-management corporate types, they too shun any notion of being burdened with topics having to do with race consciousness, preferring to associate economic, political struggle issues with their parent's generation.
Like Spike Lee and his "40 Acres and A Mule" production company, other members of the hip-hop generation must begin to accept responsibility as vehicles for conscious Black social organization. Black Hip-hoppers must understand and act on their power as the primary propaganda tool for the reeducation of African American youth brainwashed by society's subconscious symbols of white supremacy. The ability to use mass media and hip-hop's economic potential to reeducate and empower Africans in America and throughout the Diaspora could be hip-hop's most lasting contribution.
Cash Money People, along with their parents need to take note of what their materialism is doing to the fate of the world. Their gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles are rapidly depleting the world's limited oil resources, and, at least, 20 percent of the "ice" resting on bling-blingers' fingers, chests, ears, noses, lips, and "grills" (teeth and car) are deviations of the "Blood Diamonds" from Africa that are used to fund rebel wars there. Africa's warring factions buy arms with proceeds from uncut diamonds sold to world markets.
The trade in "Blood Diamonds" has financed wars and fed corruption that brought on the collapse of state institutions in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Bling-blingers' glittering gems are valuable commodities in moving finance around the world.
Racism is worldwide and is elusive, deceiving, and often-invisible social engineering that hides within European-oriented public policy and social mores. Only in working together can African Americans overcome the obsession with mainstream acceptance and assimilation mind-set. Only when all generations of African Americans "turn off" to the false belief that ruthless pursuit of individual wealth is the American Dream, can we "turn on" to giving sufficient attention to building independent and autonomous institutions that eradicate policies, symbols, and practices in place to maintain African people in inferior statuses here, and everywhere.
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