Change

The World’s Still a Ghetto: Is the ‘Hood Better Off?

“Don’t you know/ that it’s true/that for me/ and for you/the world is a ghetto” – “The World Is A Ghetto”, War

The Democratic National Convention was going as scripted, as each speaker bragged about what the party had accomplished over the last four years, and what the President would do if elected for another term. That was until 18-year-old, aspiring poet, “Terrell from Taco Bell, “ yelled out from the cheap seats, “Is my neighborhood better off than it was four years ago?” As silence fell over the auditorium, it was clear that everyone knew the answer…

It’s not everyday that a sitting president feels the agony of defeat. So back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter, it sent a shockwave through the political system. Many people say that Reagan’s knockout punch came when he asked the American public, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

If this same question was posed in 2012, the answer would, largely, depend on who you ask. Some people are eatin’ good in this economy, while others are strugglin’ to feed their families.

This is not about blaming the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as you can ask the people in the ‘hood if they were better off four, eight, or 12 years ago and get the same answer…

Emphatically, no! There are millions of people in this country who are generations deep in poverty and despair.

Recently, rapper Kendrick Lamar hurt some people’s feelings when he said, during an interview on truthisscary.com, “I don’t do votin’.” Although criticized, he actually hit on what most people refuse to admit – ITSS. (It’s The System, Stupid!”)

Lamar was not the first entertainer to voice reservations about voting. Music icon Prince says he abstains for religious reasons. The late comedian George Carlin gave a brilliant analysis of the political system in his ““American Dream” standup routine. Even Hip-Hop artist KRS-One once claimed on “Ah Yeah” that “every president we ever had lied.”

But Lamar was an easier target to criticize because he presented an off-the-cuff comment instead of an in-depth political analysis. If he had really dropped some science instead of some solution-less, incoherent ramblings, none of his critics would have touched it.

When President Obama was elected, I was under no delusion that he would be able to deliver the “Change“ that he promised during his campaign. The system just ain’t set up for that. However, I did expect more on an aesthetic level.

I thought, at least, the beauty of the election of America’s first Black president would change the perception of African Americans in the media.

It didn’t. Just more reality shows.

And after Young Jeezy’s song, “My President’s Black”, I assumed that rap music was moving in a more political direction.

I was wrong. How many times did you hear the stripper anthem, “Bans to Make Her Dance”. on the radio today?

Or, at the very least, the racist attacks on the Prez by the Tea Party and Right Wing radio would stop the Black-on-Black violence in the streets, as the gangstas would realize that they had a common enemy.

Wrong again. Look at Chicago.

So, perhaps the problem is not Obama. Maybe the problem is us.

We have to break out of this Hegelian Dialectical paradigm and stop looking for the forces that created the problem to give us the solution.

It is the nature of Capitalism to have a permanent underclass. And any president who, at least, appears to be deviating from its tenets will be dogged for promoting Socialism throughout his administration. (Case in point, Barack Obama.)

So we are not really dealing with a Democracy “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are dealing with what KRS would call “the politics of pimps and hos.” And, politicians sell people on the idea that, in this country, every ho has the the opportunity to become a pimp.

Let’s be clear. It’s no big secret that I think Fox News‘ Sean Hannity is the poster boy for White Supremacy, and Rush Limbaugh is a racist, Right Wing windbag. So, my hatred of conservative politics does not have to be repeated here.

However, I am also not a fan of the benign neglect of the Dems who turn their backs on the poor while kissin’ the butts of the middle class. Nor of the “non-economic liberalism” that Harold Cruse discussed in his work “Plural But Equal”, where feel good speeches and promises take the place of a redistribution of wealth in this country.

Although the media has focused on the back and forth between the pro-Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton and the anti-Obama team of Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, the sharpest criticism came from people like Omali Yeshitela of the Black is Back Coalition and Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report. Although their ideologies are more in line with the masses of African Americans, they are largely ignored by mainstream media.

The purpose here is not to suggest that people should be politically apathetic, but politically educated. We have to develop new ways of dealing with the political machine. To borrow from the Dilated Peoples’ line on “This Way”, “This industry will play with your life, man/ they’re playin’ with your rent, food, water, and lights, man.”

We have to ask the question, while rappers like Kendrick Lamar have criticized the political system, with the economic power of the Hip-Hop Nation, why haven’t they created a third political party? The money and other resources are there.

Could it be a lack of serious commitment? Although many people in Hip-Hop catch voting fever every four years, if the next presidential debate comes on TV at the same time as the season premiere of “Love and Hip Hop”, which one will they watch ?

I rest my case.

The best solution to this country’s problems is not gonna come from Democrats or Republicans who just parrot the party line, but from Independent voters and thinkers who not only make candidates earn their votes, but mobilize to force them to keep their campaign promises.

The Democrats have enough cheerleaders, and the Republicans already have their “Joe the Plumbers.” What the ‘hood needs is more “Tyrells” who are not scared to say,” even though Obama has been talkin’ change, the ‘hood remains the same.”

Because, at the end of the month, what good is talking about “change “ when it doesn’t mean more change in your pocket when you’re adding up your bills.

Like Jay-Z once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is This Ain’t Hip Hop, a weekly column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com. His website is NoWarningShotsFired.com. Follow on Twitter (@truthminista).

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  • hoeyuno

    I somewhat feel sorry for obama. The man genuinely wants to help the american people. One of the first things he tried to do was give every single american the right to health care, which is something you would think the land of the free would have had many years ago. And because of greedy politicians who’s soul purpose is to do anything opposite to the other party, the man got torn apart over it. There was no hidden agenda. Obama was not doing this for anything but for the simple fact that it is rediculous to break your arm then get a $9000 bill for it. I watched old ass politicians from coast to coast on cnn talking about in canada elders get left to die. In canada you can’t choose your own doctor.. These allegations were all complete bullshit. The health care in canada is great!!! At the end of the day american presidents are put in a position where they can’t do anything right do to the rediculous stupidness of political parties.

    • ItGoesDownINtheDM

      thats exactly why i dont like this stuff because no matter what anyone does or says demo or repub someone has something to say AGAINST IT … its like there is no right answer or no median …. there can only be 1 president why cant we all decide on 1 choice … cause there are too many opinions … there are so many that someone could run for president talking about i’ll kill every citizen after im elected and drop the marriage age to 14 and this guy may not win BUT!!!!! there will actually be folks who would vote for this guy ……………………………………… thats how deep this ish is ……. our entire world is CONFUSED!! you got folks who vote base on skin color ?????? you got people who vote just cause your an Demo or Repub??????? CONFUSED !!!!!!!

      • Because they elect leaders & vote as a block / team.

    • Mongo Slade

      THAT HEALTH CARE YALL DUDES KEEP YAPPIN ABOUT IS SUSPECT AT BEST!

  • Lyve Wire

    1. we depend on the govt to change things that we could be taking care of. the street mentality of the hood is why the crime is there and nor obama or romney can change that.
    2. what kind of changes do we want in the hood? more money? while some may use that money to leave the ghetto, most will invest in nonsense…that street mentality i mentioned earlier.
    3. seems like most of the presidents hate is race driven. he couldve made all of the changes, but it still wouldnt be enough. where were they when bush was in office?
    4. there is no perfect political situation. in the current senario, the rich get richer, and the poor stay poor. thats never going to change unless we come together. maybe a few socialist ideas will help. i dont see any other way.

    • ItGoesDownINtheDM

      man everyone just needs to do thier job like thier suppose to but then again thats another reason why its like this … an repbulicans job is to dig into and point out what wrong about a democrat and vice versa … they police each other… its like a cop who sees no crime on the street … @ that point he sees no crime, which may = no job for him … so he creates senarios to keep his job or digs to find issues so his bosses know hes doing his job or better yet he maybe just that ambitious about the job …. its either that or he could be in the unemployment line …. this maybe hard to digest but its real ish ………. but the sad part is the people suffer behind it …… but its just folks out there doing thier jobs trying to feed thier fam …….

      • Lyve Wire

        i agree

    • Sparky Flinstone

      The street mentality my friend is a direct reflection of POVERTY I don’t know what the F$#@ u talking about

  • Pierre Elliott

    SHT HAS NOT CHANGED….AS A BLACKMAN IN NYC, I GET MORE HARRASSED NOW THAN I EVER DID IN THE PAST, AND I WAS ACTUALLY WHYLIN…ROBBING, DOING MAD GRAFFITTI AND SELLING JUMBS….NOW.. NGGAS BE GETTING BAGGED DAILY LIKE BREAD….. NYC IS NOW WACK BECAUSE OF ALL THE COPS, AMERICA FOR THAT MATTER HAS GOTTEN DUMB WACK AND LAME..

    • “We living in a police state” – Dead Prez

      Youtube it!

    • So guess what which party the mayor belongs to. Even Bloomberg would call himself more liberal.

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  • Can’t front, the Obama phone = Official tissue.

  • Negro Peligro

    Current JOURNALISM is what’s poor. Obama did a GREAT JOB. Not a good job a great job. But the CURRENT JOURNALIST never list the mans accomplishments.

    Caught Bin Laden
    Cleaned up the massive oil spill
    DO YOUR RESEARCH. THE RECOVERY ACT LIFTED 7 million people out of poverty.
    The recovery act made 32 Million people less poor
    Obama fought for the unemployed extension of benefits of unemployment and won
    Obama fought for the working individual to extend the payroll tax cut and won
    Won a war to promote FREEDOM without a single loss of American life. Compare Libya to Iraq
    Ronald Regan passed the socialist agenda when he passed Medicaid and forced hospitals to treat the uninsured. OBAMA PAID FOR IT.
    Reduced government spending (why republicans keep saying when did he balance budget)
    Got more grants for student instead of student loans. Made student loans no longer federally back so that it doesn’t haunt you for the rest of your life.
    Obama also made it so that if you work for a non profit or volunteer your student loan can be defered and completely removed after 20 years.
    Passed bi-partisan health bill. It took republicans coming across the aisle to get it done.

    No copay for contraceptives
    No insurance capping your coverage and dumping that person onto medicare or medicaid where the tax payer makes up the difference
    Justice department crack down on EXCESSIVE OVERDRAFT FEES
    Prosecuted banks and got settlements on lending practices that affected minorities the worst
    Save Auto Workers in AMERICA. Like all of them. Name it GM, HONDA, FORD, TOYOTA ETC ETC. ASK EDUCATED AMERICANS FROM THE MIDWEST AROUND YOU WHO THEIR PARENTS WORKED FOR.
    Sent troops to fight KONY. YOU WOULDN’T HAVE YOUR LITTLE KONY movement had it not been for OBAMA.
    At last count their are 3.5 million unfilled jobs. Only 800k technical jobs
    He tried to pass laws to make it so that loss of income while being unemployed could be included in bankruptcy judgements against companies

    He enacted the dream act by making his justice department not deport persons brought to the country under a young age and are pursuing education.
    He audited the government finding abuse and waste
    Signed the Credit card act to prevent banks from abusive credit card practices
    Set up the office of consumer protection
    Improved Minority Access to capitol
    Funded Veteran affairs an additional 1.2 billion
    Allowed family to visit bodies at DOVER AIRFORCE BASE LONG ENDING THE POLITICAL BAND INITIATED BY BUSH WHO DIDN’T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THE BODIES COMING BACK FROM IRAQ

    OH YEAH
    GOT US OUT OF IRAQ
    Cracked down on companies that mostly employ minorities that were abusing the title of contract worker
    Expanded trade agreements to include stricter guidelines for pay and environmental concerns which makes inner city minority workers more competitive.
    Appointed the first LATINO to the court

    GHETTO. Obama established the office of urban affairs.This department pools together solutions for inner city problems that succeeded and shares that expertise with other cities and develops legislation that could be enacted to improve other cities..

  • Reblogged this on The Music Business Revisionist and commented:
    A VERY well written piece on Hip Hop and election time, but not only that, on what we need to do differently to ensure that we’re not caught in the same exact cycle that we are every four years.

  • It seems like AHH blocks my comments.

  • Pierre Elliott

    I HEAR EVERYONE TALKING VALID POINTS….BUT ITS TIME FOR REVOLUTION.
    NGGAS AND BTCHES GONNA HAVE TO DIE LIKE HEADS DID IN THE PAST….

    THE TALKING IS OVER. LIVE TRULY FREE OR DIE.

  • look beyond

    the answer to unemployment is the dramatic reduction of outsourcing in this country. Outsourcing is largely responsible for the breaking of many of our african american homes in the 60’s and 70’s. Many homes during that period and years prior were two parent homes. But when you remove factories and warehouses, which were the primary source of income for many black families, you striped black families of the ability to earn a living for their family. Many black families during that time had a minimal education so these blue collar jobs were all they had. Once these jobs were gone, so began the onset of the generational dependence on the governments assistance.

  • look beyond

    there will never be a correction of the unemployment problem in this country so long as the major employers of this country employ people on the other side of the world and not at home. No jobs means no income. No income means poverty. Poverty begets crime and the crab in the barrel mentality is born. And thats how its been and how its gonna continue to be

  • altan

    This is a great article, im half white, and Turkish. I feel like you hit the nail on the head. Im not a political person but I agreed with ya. Another thing I would like to say, I truely miss songs that talks about these issues, such as curtis mayfield and bob marley. One love to KRS-One he’s everything hip hop should be. peace

  • Mongo Slade

    Great article True Minista! Very insightful and this part summed it up best: “So we are not really dealing with a Democracy “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are dealing with what KRS would call “the politics of pimps and hos.” And, politicians sell people on the idea that, in this country, every ho has the the opportunity to become a pimp.”