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How Hip Hop Destroyed Black Power

Min. Paul Scott

From the moment Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Tureí) grabbed the mic and yelled Black Power ! the phrase has struck fear in the heart of white America. Not that they were overly concerned that we posed some sort of military or economic threat, as the white power structure had those two options on ìlockî but

the possibility that the phrase would galvanize the masses of Black youth to action and motivate them to do more than get their grove on Saturday night and their praise on Sunday morning sent chills up the spines of those who had a vested interest in holding the Black community down. Something had to be done to destroy this uncompromising desire for FREEDOM, JUSTICE and EQUALITY.

The blackploitation movies of the 70ís were a good try as they served as a funkier alternative to the Black Nationalist struggle. However, even the pimps and pushers were Struggling against ìthe man.î Also, during that period, the blood of the Black Panthers and our other martyrs was still fresh on the pavements of many neighborhoods of Black America.

So the weapon of choice was a movement of young Black teenagers who had developed a system of organization that could do anything from educate children about the historical struggle of African people to turning the deadliest gang rivalry into a break dance competition.

First, the power structure tried to ban rap music altogether by strengthening indecency laws in states where rappers performed and forcing them to place parental guidance stickers on their albums. But the contradiction of having those who have robbed, killed and murdered every culture on the planet serving, as morality police was too much to swallow.

Also problematic was the fact that to them the members of the 2 Live Crew and Public Enemy were interchangeable.

So they fell back on their old standard ìif you canít beat them, corrupt them." It was not an overnight, hostile takeover but a slow, cunning infiltration, kind of like the annoying scratchy throat that you ignore until it has you sick in bed for two weeks. By then it is too late.

What arose was a Hip Hop nation that held no allegiance to the Black Nation as the hip Hop nation was all inclusive and anyone regardless of race, class, religion or political views where anyone who had 15 dollars to buy a CD and could imitate the style of dress from glossy magazine covers could be down.

There is a saying in Afrocentric circles that when the European missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land and when they left, we had the Bible and they had the land. In terms of Hip Hop, when the white missionaries in the form of corporate executives came to the ëhood they had the 20 inch rims and courvoisier and we had the music, when they left, we had the rims and courvoisier and they had the music. We traded our dashikis for Rockawear, our African medallions for platinum chains and our souls for a moment to shine in front of white America. As it is said, we crossed over and couldnít get black. Black Power became an example of racism in reverse and a term that should have gone out with the Afro pick.

Hip Hop should serve as the background music for the Black Nation and should be heard pumpiní through speakers at every uprising, protest, or demonstration. However, the forces, which control Hip Hop, have taken measures to make sure that the Hip Hop Nation and the Black Power Nation never unite. While most rappers would swear on their mammasí graves that they are in control of their Hip Hop destinies, I can not help to think that behind the back stage curtain at every rap concert is an oldwhite ìWizard of the ëhoodî carefully manipulating the lives of our children.

What we have here is a failure to communicate; a convesation that never happened. A dialogue between the Black Nation and the Hip Hop Nation has been skillfully blocked by the white power structure. While talk shows often pit Harvard educated, middle class journalist, Bob Smith against straight up gangsta, MC Cut Throat, I have yet to see a debate between "MC Cut Throat" and straight up Black militant, revolutionary, "Bro. Shaka Zulu."

We must not be afraid of alienating our children (as many of them cannot become more alienated, anyway) by engaging them to observe Hip Hop against the back drop of the struggle for Black LIBERATION. As many of them pride themselves on being the ìrealistî and shocking white America with their lyrics that talk loud and say nothing, we must teach them of the ancestors who were really controversial and were rewarded with a bullet in the head or noose around their necks and not heavy rotation on a radio station.

We must not be afraid to use the term "anti-afrikanism" in describing some of the disrespect that white corporate America gives us in the guise of entertainment. While it may be too early to grill Lil Bow Wow on his views on the mental genocide of Afrikan people, it is not only proper; but our responsibility, to engage 30 something year old Black men on their views on colonialism. If they are able to tell our children about the correct way to sell crack or murder another Black man, the issue of white supremacy should not intimidate them in the least.

Although many would like to write off the age of Black Consciousness as a lost era ;if you walk outside on a warm summer night, after the last video has played on BET, if you listen closely you can still hear the voices of the ancestors shouting black power, Black Power, BLACK POWER!


Min. Paul Scott is founder of the Durham NC based New Righteous Movement which teaches Afrikan Liberation Theology. He can be reached at

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