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Hip-Hop's Response To The 2014 State of the Union Address

chuck_creekmurI almost didn’t write this response.

I’ve had several rounds of disappointment with the United States since Barack Obama has taken office as president.

I’ve realized, when I watch these State of the Union speeches, all I’m really looking for is a nugget or two that I or my people can relate to. Last year, I was excited when the president used the word “poor” to describe actual impoverished people, as opposed to some colloquialism like “people aspiring to be middle class.” In 2012, it was “nation building” and in 2011 he dropped a simple, ubiquitous phrase: “We do big things.” This year, the president directly recognized “young men of color” as a part of a upcoming initiative. Loved it! (Yes, we still long for “America” to recognize our plight.)

Specifically though, Obama said:

“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential,” he said in remarks on efforts to offer hands-on training, give colleges incentives to offer better value and ensure that “no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education.”

That felt great…like a piece of a piece of a steak after you’ve had decades of hotdogs. Or if you are healthy, salad that has not been genetically modified or sprayed by pesticides.

But, Obama gave no specifics on this ambitious plan. Anxiously, I await the details so it can help my constituents, my friends and my young relatives.

Speeches don’t build nations.

ALSO READ: The Hip-Hop Response To The 2013 State Of The Union Address

They also don’t create scientists, astronauts, technologists, entrepreneurs or teachers, all of which are needed in Black and Brown communities.

Recently, a good friend of mine told me I need to be more positive about the strides that we’ve made, and specifically referenced my own accomplishments. And, I believe there is some truth to what she said, but I never, ever stop striving to be better. And, for my people, I expect the same. It has been difficult to relinquish certain facts that have become self-evident. These facts have varying degrees of importance depending your walk of life. A lot of people – regardless of color/creed – simply don’t care about poverty, AIDS rates,  prison industrial complexes, privatized school systems, ignorance and a litany of other ailments that run rampant like rabid dogs looking to claim another victim.

And it continues.

We’ve seen the rise of a new, covert and despicable forms of racism. We have witnessed the middle class pretend such systemic prejudice no longer exists (passive racism). I’m talking food deserts, walking while Black (Stop-N-Frisk), and environmental forms of discrimination. We’ve watched the economic gains of African Americans be eroded away like the Jersey Shore. We live in an era where Black love is romanticized Jay Z and Beyonce. (If I see another meme that says, “This could be us…” I might release a blood-curdling scream.) And we see that people of color out-index every screwed up situation you can imagine. Hell, we even watched Kendrick Lamar fail to garner a simple Grammy. Sometimes, its the small things we’re looking for – the proverbial moral victory. But then, these small things represent bigger conundrums. Were you listening when Chicago rap artist Chief Keef express a desire to increase the murder rate with his next album?

Honestly, and perhaps pathetically, people of color don’t always have a lot of time to consider the bigger pictures gradually being painted. We still have drone strikes and gross violations of privacy. Voter suppression efforts exist. We have increased mass shootings and gun violence, which president Obama addressed. Our young girls are victims of sexual assault in ways most people cannot fathom and they must contend with the gender inequality that pollutes society.

“We grind from the bottom just to make it to the bottom.”

– Freeway on Beanie Sigel’s “Got Nowhere”

When its all said and done, how did we advance our lives and the lives of those around us? What did we do to make the world better for our kids and our children’s children? I know it sounds cliche, but its real. We, the hustlers of the world, run on a never-ending “Hamster Wheel of Fortune,” seemingly running in place en route to a mythical pot of gold. We juggle our various lives like a Ringling Brothers act, managing careers, personal necessities, and whatever relationships we can muster. And for what? Did you fundamentally change the thinking of a kid in your global neighborhood (which now extends well beyond the walls of your physical location)? I say this to the richest mogul – have you fundamentally changed somebody’s thinking for the better?

I’ll let you think on that if you’re still reading.

“Opportunity is who we are and the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.

– President Obama

I’m not necessarily disappointed in President Obama, if you misunderstood my opening salvo. I fully comprehend that he’s the president of the United States and not the president of what I love dearly. I have a daughter, a niece, a couple god sons and a nation of millions that I serve through AllHipHop, special interests and even social media. Not caring is not an option. Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address had more coded language for African Americans and the poor than those in the past. Perhaps that’s what one White House worker meant when he warned me to wait until Obama didn’t have to concern himself with reelection. Maybe.

I certainly don’t expect anything wild like Mumia getting pardoned or reparations.  The point is, these responses to to SOTU have increasingly specified that we look inward for strength, validation and leadership. We get mad when _______________ (fill in the blank with any number of names) gets ________________ (fill in the blank with any number of injustices), but we have no proactive, sweeping agenda or unified plan to address matters. There are deep pockets of resistance that address Detroit’s dire circumstance, gun violence in Chicago and other issues that were not included in the president’s speech. And on the flip side, we’re down with education as a means to sustained change, among other progressive movements.

Finally, I’m glad I took the time to write this piece, regardless. When running a marathon you get tired, questioning “why?,” “who cares?,” or “what difference does this action make?” But, somewhere along the way, you ignore the plain, deepen your focus and hit your stride.  Understanding the art of inches in the midst of adversity is paramount. Slow motion is better than none.

I’m convinced – despite brief bouts with pessimism – we’ll get there, as soon as extreme patience marries extreme action.

  • Reblogged this on Imarashed.

  • acapwn

    Our politicians are too busy lining their own pockets to give a damn about anybody else. It don’t matter what color they are or where they’re from. Good read though.

    • Thanks…its time to re-create the village.

      • acapwn

        I hear that and I’m on it, please believe!

  • Shawn MetotheEnd Wynn

    Well written, and well said.

  • C. Rice

    I dont know, I have my issues about how this President has done but it’s hard for me to put all the ills of black culture on his shoulders of put the onus on him to solve everything. He could come up with the best plans ever but if it cant get through the racist republicans in the House of representatives then thats what it is. Also, he isnt the reason we dont have black doctors and teaches, WE are. We are the ones who give more props to athletes than to professionals, following in the same footsteps as a media who hates us but loves to profit off of us.

    • What you said is exactly what I’ve said…its not blaming the president at all.

      • Then maybe I missed something, what exactly is The President supposed to do to help black people? I mean he’s the president; the president sets an agenda but doesn’t make policy. And we’ve seen how Congress, especially the House or Representatives, has pushed back on everything The President has presented. And we (black people) show no interest in this…just like Ice Cube said, “we care more about hairstyles and tennis shoes”.

    • LD51

      Civil Liberties?

      • What civil liberties has The President taken away? And I’m not talkin about ones that were taken away after the signing of the Patriot Act.

  • The Truth

    reallly? he is not superman. he came into office after 8 straight years of a bullshit president

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  • XWheme1937

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  • obama did a good job no matter what you think

  • jubileeshine

    #RasJBaraka for Newark Mayor!

  • Opposite Of Everyone

    meanwhile in the East, millions of people are getting killed, tortured, mutilated, physically enslaved, brutalized and removed of ALL rights.

    Now shall we spend our days striving to be the best we can be and making sure our lives are as perfect as possible? Or shall we try and focus on helping those millions who are obviously in a much worse situation than us?

    • acapwn

      I think we need to spend more time to take care of what’s happening here before worryin about shit in another country.

      • Opposite Of Everyone

        And therein lies the problem.. people wanting to perfect their own existence before helping others in a situation 100 times worse..

      • acapwn

        That ‘helping’ is one of the reasons a lot of people around the world can’t stand us.

      • Opposite Of Everyone

        that’s very true; that ain’t the type of help I had in mind though (ie. America ‘helping themselves’ to other countries goods and resources)

  • DreamBigLiveLarge

    just like they said on the third hunger games book, “every revolution begins with a spark.”

  • Sharrocks

    Folks can’t listen if you don’t speak; silence isn’t always the answer, but it is best before speaking, when someone is talking. Good job

  • ANDRE SALAZAR

    Wake-up! Jigsaw’s fails once again by barely questioning Obama or pointing out ALL of the lies he’s told/sold to the American public & how all of these “black” outlets have bought & consumed all of it, with a smile on their faces, while still falling into the “black-money” brain-washed scenario where the “black-community” strives to that imaginary place “white-people” & the “1%” have enjoyed for so long!! The continued push for blacks to strive & pursue “things” & wealth only serves to prove to the “gate-keepers” that we have remained ignorant from since the very beginning!! Whether you know or you don’t know, the pursuit of “currency” (which only paper) shows that either our community is aware & ignores reality or just continues to remain ignorant while complaining & staying stagnant for the remainder of our time here. As far as I can tell Jigsaw, the only thing that we as “whole” have accomplished for the past 100 years is learn how to convince ourselves & our future progeny that we need to be like our slave masters & anything less is a failure. The “1%” or “elitists” have created the template of what “NOT” to do when dealing with another human being. People love preaching Jesus/God & love, peace & happiness, but at the same time ignore those peoples teaching (the “7” DEADLY SINS!!!) -“It would be easier to fit a camel through a needles eye, then to get the “rich”(greedy) into heaven!!” -Jesus Christ #reality #KeepChasingThingsAndMoneyDummy

  • deanharris

    Our gains during the civil rights struggle were produced from activism and the political gains followed. At that time, we had little resources other than our collective voice and it was used effectively. Today we have all sorts of resources, financial, political, academic etc, but we’re as fragmented as ever in terms of using them to resolve our issues.

    When Obama campaigned in 2008, he made promises to the masses like most politicians, appealing to our desperate nature. Once in office, he focused on pleasing the 1% and giving lip-service to our concerns.

    The onus is on us to empower us!!

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  • Purger Black

    the question is how come the headline aint with the rest of the text and why is it dat since Obamas in office the Hip Hop, hip-hop as rap product and a hiphoppa is suffering with dis proneggroistic poor developming of black ppl in america pointing dat your diabolizm is wide open (as heard last frm papoose) and d only thing yall made money off is wack trapped n ignorent, plus yo got just “wite fans” yellin hoos in d industry?! wrong moment for america to over sand, wat??! KAJ! n a pliz…

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