Friday, March 8, 2013

Positively Embracing Slavery

            In a lecture given on February 28, David Banner gave a presentation on the State of the Hip-Hop Community. In his lecture, Banner equated hip-hop to slavery using his own personal experiences and research. His main argument was that the African American community has not progressed. In his words, “African Americans went from whips and chains to whips (cars) and chains (flashy jewelry).” African Americans are stuck in a slavery mind-set that we have yet to overcome. Physically, African Americans have been freed. However, we are still mentally bound to “master” and his plantation.
            Throughout his lecture, David Banner discussed how the lyrics that rappers record are based upon the record label. The owner of this record label is the plantation owner, or the white man. Everything that is recorded and released into mainstream is dependent on the approval of master. According to Banner, the plantation owner is the reason why rappers promote drugs, sex, money, and cars instead of education. Rappers do it for the money. If they choose to speak out, they face the fate of being like Tupac and Biggie Smalls: dead.
            Although David Banner made some interesting points, most of it seemed redundant. For example, he relied heavily on stereotypical actions. At one point, he asked an African American student about the treatment he receives from the police officers. When the student responded positively, David Banner commented that “Rhodes got you.” The reliance on stereotypical examples does not justify actions. Everyone has a different experience based on the company they keep, their gender, and background.  
            During David Banner’s lecture, his comments on how African Americans are stuck in a slavery state of mind evoked a question. As African Americans, we have been stripped from our homeland. During our time in America, much of our heritage and language was lost. If slavery is the only thing that we know and can identify, why it is wrong for us to embrace slavery? Is it wrong to embrace the culture of slavery when this is all that we know and are taught?  True, we must progress as a race, but how can we progress if we do not embrace our roots?  As African Americans, we can embrace our culture and transform it into something positive. In order to know where we are going, we must remember where we came from. After all, we embrace our culture through the remembrance of our ancestors and their fight for freedom every February in each year. 


  1. Don't forget Immortal Technique, who isn't signed by any record label. I wonder if Dr. Banner mentioned him. For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Immortal Technique is an African American Hispanic political rapper, who's work primarily deals with the modern civil rights movement and the discrimination that still exists.

    If you want to check out some of his incredible work (which you should), listen to "Leaving the Past" (from the Revolutionary, vol 2 album) or "The Harlem Renaissance" (from The 3rd World album). Here's a snippet from the latter.

    And you wonder why, people don't own they homes
    Cause the racist bank wouldn't fuckin mortgage a loan
    Until after the invasion of, gentrification
    Eminent domain intimidation, that's not negotiation
    And it's frustratin to look at, every day
    Like watchin a porno, on 56-K
    Biohazard labs instead of store rooms
    What's next motherfucker, projects as dorm rooms?
    You ain't fool nobody in this community duke
    With your little fake Manhattanville community group
    Ivy league, real estate firms are corrupt
    I lay siege to your castle like the Moors in Europe
    They treat street vendors like criminal riff-raff
    While politicians get the corporate kickbacks.

    Harlem Renaissance, a revolution betrayed
    Modern day slaves thinkin that the ghetto is saved
    'Til they start deportin people off the property
    Ethnically cleansin the hood, economically
    They wanna kill the real Harlem Renaissance
    Tryin to put the Virgin Mary through a early menopause
    The savior is a metaphor for how we set it off
    Guerrilla war against the re-zoning predators.

  2. I also find issue with aspects of David Banner's theory. I agree that his “Rhodes got you” comment, in rebuttal to the police positively dealing with an African American student, is problematic. This sort of generalization can be dangerous and progress stunting; however, in discussion of the condition of the black race as a whole it is often necessary. This student’s positive experience with the police does not change the fact that many blacks have and will experience racism on the part of law enforcement. I also find his assertion that the African American community has not progressed problematic. To make such a claim denies the strides made by the black community and the hard work it took to make them. Still, the legacy of slavery lives on, not only in our nation’s institutions, but in the minds of blacks as well. The mental legacy of slavery still burdens many blacks in America today. I think that it is very important for the African American community to overcome this, but I don’t think this would mean sacrificing their rich culture. Ridding oneself of the “master” mind-set does not equate to a denial of one’s cultural history. In my opinion, doing so would free blacks from the exploitative master-slave dynamic Banner points to in Hip Hop and in society as a whole, enabling blacks to fully embrace their culture. After all, what do the “whips and chains” of our time actually have to do with the beauty of black culture?