Over the last few months, citizens across the country have left the comfort of their homes and social media to pick up picket signs and take to the streets to protest police brutality and treatment of Black men by police.
The out-pouring of support from people all over for the lost lives of Missouri teen Michael Brown and New York resident Eric Garner has been amazing to see. What’s been more amazing have been those in the entertainment and sports industry who have lent their voices to the fight.
Country star Garth Brooks cancelled a concert in Ferguson amidst the announcement of no indictment of the police officer who shot and killed Brown. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant tweeted his disgust with the judicial system after the announcement.
And those are just a few of the A-list names who saw the injustice happening in the country and spoke up.
What has been disturbing has been the lack of support from the hip-hop community. Some of the industry’s most out-spoken names haven’t said a word about the numerous deaths that have taken place at the hands of police in the African-American community.
Artists who normally speak about their lack of love for police, their own stature in the community and how their presence as a rap star is supposed to influence others, haven’t said two words about any of the incidents of late.
No statement from Jay Z, Nas, T.I., Rick Ross or Kanye West have come as of late.
Younger stars who would assume could really relate to harassment from police like Wiz Khalifa, Bobby Shmurda, A$AP Rocky and The Migos have made absolutely no mention of anything going on.
That’s not to discount those who have. Atlanta rapper Jeezy has been outspoken when it came to the treatment of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin.
Fellow ATLien Killer Mike has delivered speeches, made appearances on CNN to speak about police brutality and the treatment of Black teens by police. A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip led a rally in New York. J. Cole made an appearance in NYC during a march for Eric Garner.
And that’s not to mention David Banner and Tef Poe and others who have been vocal about every incident.
Their words and presence on the ground has been important when it comes to bringing out more people for the cause.
The bigger question is why haven’t more join in? Why haven’t more artists who claim street lives and upbringings made a peep about the deaths of their peers? Has hip-hop turned a deaf ear to the streets they say they represent?
To keep this conversation going, we’re going to need even more big names to put concern for others before endorsements and business deals and speak about something that is impacting their fan base.
If you’re truly a “king in these streets” or think you’re the “face of a new generation” then you’ll need to lend that voice now and then to something bigger than, “I got a new album coming.”
And I’ve seen it done in the past by acts. Kanye for example has been very out-spoken about the racism he sees in the fashion world. But that’s more about him and his issues to break through. It wasn’t a rant about how other people of color with hopes of breaking into the fashion world have faced over years.
Speaking about an incident of racism or police profiling when it solely concerns you is disingenuous. It’s when you can put yourself in the place of others, feel their pain and push to action when you’re doing something.
Hip-Hop has always been on the frontline when it came to problems in the inner-city. From “Self Destruction”, to “Same Gang”, and “H.E.A.L”, and other collaboration that artists joined together for a common cause. It’s been rappers who have brought the most light to things mainstream media would turn a blind eye to.
So can we see that type of social-responsibility from today’s artist? I hope so.
Remember, “can’t turn your back on the hood, you got love for them.” Remember?