We are one from the very start/We are one deep down in your heart We are one/And that’s the way it is/We are one/We Are One
—Music and lyrics by: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
A prominent historian of European descent, whose scholarship was post-Civil War America, Emancipation and the Reconstruction Period once said: The greatest atrocity ever committed by White people on Black people is the erasing of their history! After all what good is a man or women without a memory; what good are a people or community without a shared memory, experience or history? What becomes of a people who leave it to others to interpret their history, tell their story or create their narrative?
We are now celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Hip Hop, a uniquely American art form, a powerful, creative force in world popular culture! But, there is a concern that we are not hearing a lot of conversations about the future of hip-hop or for that matter, the future of Black music in America.
What would Black music look and sound like 50 years from now? In the year 2073, what will be said about today’s hip-hop on its 100th anniversary? In the context of the totality of Black music in America, today’s hip-hop or rap music is problematic. Commercially, it has become increasingly self-hating, vulgar and explicit in its lyrics and presentation. The African American people are presently allowing themselves to be branded as a violent, criminal hypersexual race; an image projected to the world as a people without a past or a future; a people without a soul!
Black music in America today is in crisis—a spiritual and cultural crisis. Cultural genocide is a reality and it’s happening in real time. The entertainment industry is waging a relentless, unholy war upon the souls of our children. Yes, our community is beset with numerous challenges, but we do not need a hostile media to pour kerosene on them.
This brings into question what goes on in the minds of Fortune 500 CEOs and executives in the entertainment business. How can they, with any conscience, justify the recording, production, marketing and distribution of degenerate, immoral, sexuality explicit, pornographic material to middle school and high school students—teenagers? Today’s music environment is a big contributor to mental health, public safety and quality of life issues.
It is absolutely wrong, immoral and wicked to market false liberty and The Seven Deadly Sins as an attractive lifestyle choice to the young, poor and the unlearned—our most vulnerable. It’s hard to comprehend that the corporations whose brands we trust would involve themselves in the sordid enterprise of robbing unsuspecting youth of their innocence and dignity for profit! These are unfair, undemocratic and un-American practices.
Fashion, Fear, and Debt
The African American people must now come to terms with this one and basic truth: There is no political solution to a moral, spiritual and cultural crisis. The children are being led astray! It seems we have all but surrendered our cultural sovereignty to Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Big Business. Today, Black dysfunction has become America’s entertainment. We allow others to dictate trends and fashion; to define our heroes and villains reminiscent of the evil days and ways of slavery. The new slave master: fashion, fear and debt!
It is time to reverse the negative and begin to embrace a positive, community-building ideal! Together, let’s reclaim our future! Yes, I can groove to hip-hop, I am also down with the entirety of the Black music experience in America! Never, ever allow our people’s greatest contribution to America and world popular culture to be denied, marginalized, obscured or erased! Indeed, it is our God given right and patriotic duty to preserve, protect and promote our very best, America’s best! And that is forever our claim on the American Dream!
Power to the People!
The solution will come from within. Like in any prosperous, progressive society, the progress of our children and integrity of our culture, values and traditions—our collective soul—mean everything! I suggest the following:
1) Teach the children appreciation and gratitude. Promote cultural literacy. Teach the African American Cultural Narrative, “a new language of freedom” in the home, school or House of Worship. In just 281 words, the cultural narrative is easy to read and easy to remember. It speaks to our history and forecasts a healthy and prosperous future! It should be taught from the age of 6, and by the 13th birthday, a child should be able to read, comprehend, write, speak and commit to memory the cultural narrative—our American story!
2) Teach music appreciation—now. There is no moving forward if the music is backward. There can be no positive change if the commercially assessable music is negative! We must now commit to raising a generation of singers and musicians! Black music is more than just beats, it’s about harmony, melody and rhythm too. The churches involvement is essential. Every Black Church has a music ministry! Our faith institutions can teach cultural literacy and music.
3) Support non-profit organizations wholly committed to teaching music, music appreciation, the arts and history. We look forward to support from corporations as well as from our community’s star entertainers and sports figures. Give to organizations already on the front lines, like the Kool Kids Foundation (see page 44), the Mtume Foundation, founded by the late James Mtume, the Power 2 Inspire Foundation founded by popular bandleader Ray Chew and his wife, music executive Vivian Scott Chew, the National Action Network’s Youth Movement or Christian McBride’s Jazz House Kids, or Harlem School of the Arts.
4) Support Black-owned media, as vital community institutions of qualitative value. Check out The Positive Community’s 24/7 music streaming service, TPC Radio. Visit our website thepositivecommunity.com and click on the “radio” tab. TPC get’s the people’s music right, because we love our people and they deserve only the very best—Positive Music Matters!
In Spirit and Truth
Each generation leaves gifts and blessings for the next generation to build upon. In the case of Black Americans, there’s always been music and song. The Cultural Narrative could very well be our present generation’s gift to the future!
We believe the universe is inherently positive. So, let the negative take care of the negative. Affirm the positive—now! And fear not! Remember, in spirit and in truth, who and whose we really are: Beloved, liberated sons and daughters of the Most High God; mighty descendants of The Great Emancipation—1863.
WE ARE ONE!