THE VOICES OF HIP-HOP (TVHH): TVHH is a new monthly column curated by senior editors at AllHipHop.com featuring social, political, and cultural commentary from some of the dopest thought leaders in Hip-Hop today. Beverly Bond -- prominent celebrity DJ, avid music connoisseur, award winning Television Producer, womanist advocate, and mogul -- will kick off the column’s launch with a 5-part Op-Ed series titled “Word Is Bond”. The piece offers a critical analysis of the deep seeds of structural racism.
Bond, the founder of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, is an important voice in Hip-Hop. Scratch that! Beverly Bond is one of the most critical and necessary voices in Hip-Hop. First -- as one of the dopest highly celebrated DJs and hip-hop aficionados, Heavy Hitter DJ Beverly Bond has built a platform to celebrate and empower women and girls. Beverly Bond is a visionary change-maker and thought leader. Her work has deeply inspired me. I’m awed by her growth, stealth and humility. She rocks. Period. I hope that Bond’s extraordinary vision and revolutionary voice motivates our AllHipHop.com readers and inspires them to be the voices of change that this social cilmate demands. Word is Bond!
The artwork in this series has been created by award winning Designer and Creative Director Fuse Green (www.fusegreen.com.)
– Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur, CEO | AllHipHop.com
WORD IS BOND: THE CHARADE | Part 1 of 5
“Feet have bled a million miles we've walked... Revealing at the end of the day, the charade.” ~D’Angelo
When I view old photographs and media clips that depict brutal scenes and cruel acts of racism against Black people throughout history -- pictures of angry white protesters who stood in opposition to Blacks’ fight for civil liberties & human rights, and the lynch mobs of hateful white men, women and sometimes children who celebrated or participated in the horrific brutalization, torture, and murder of Black bodies -- I often wonder what happened to those people and their descendants?
Surely, many of of them are still alive today. Did they ever change their perspective on race? What ideologies did they pass down to their children? Did they suddenly become enlightened like George Wallace and denounce the racial divide that they participated in creating? Do they now tell their children and grandchildren that they were once on the wrong side of history, but thank God for redemption? Do they code switch -- being cordial to Black people in public, while they still practice hate-speech in private? Or even worse, do they lay dormant basking in their vile racist thoughts like a terrorist cell waiting to be activated -- secretly hoping for a new day to emerge when they can express their savage White supremacist ideals and bludgeon Black bodies freely, once again, without consequence?
The ceaseless cases of unjust, unwarranted, and inexplicable forms of violence against Black life that we’ve witnessed across this country time and time again makes it clear to me that the same people who lynched us, beat us, burned us, bombed us, killed us, sicced dogs on us, water-hosed us, and COINTELPROed us by slandering, framing and assassinating our leaders to dismantle our movements and organizations -- those people did not disappear and have not been reformed. Those people are very much alive and their bigotry is being revealed now more than ever.
Elders in our communities, who lived through the Jim Crow era often remind us of the extreme acts of hatred they faced just because of their skin color. They’ve also warned us to be mindful of our country’s history of racial injustice during a time when people are selling the misleading myth of a “post-racial America.”
Is there anything post-racial about an America where a Black boy can be murdered by a law enforcement officer in the middle of the street despite having his hands up and screaming don’t shoot; where a Black man can be choked to death by police in broad daylight while repeatedly pleading “I can’t breathe”; where a 7-year old Black girl can be shot dead in her sleep due to an unauthorized and mistaken no-knock police raid; where a 12-year-old Black boy can be shot and killed by the police on-sight for merely playing in a park with a toy gun; where a prosecutor can call a ridiculous use of force which led to the murder of that innocent child "reasonable under the circumstances;" where a Black woman can be arrested for a routine traffic stop and then mysteriously die in her jail cell shortly thereafter; or where Black college students can be harassed by racist students who hang nooses, paint swastikas made of human feces, and make death threats? Is there anything post-racial about an America where a young Black girl can be assaulted by a large muscle-bound white male officer in the middle of her high-school math class while a room full of onlookers do not intervene? We cannot purport that race is an issue of the past in an America where a 21-year-old white man not only plotted to execute black people because he “wanted to start a race war,” but actually carried out the assassination of nine innocent African-Americans during their Bible study.
Whenever people of color point out instances of structural racism, we are met with counter-arguments accusing us of “race baiting” or using the “race card”. They keep telling us to “get over it”. They want us to forget the shameful, sadistic, savage history of racialized terrorism that our ancestors endured for hundreds of years as if it bears no connection to the social disparities, implicit biases and racial inequalities that Blacks still face today because “it happened so long ago.” The discrimination, criminalization, and victimization of Black people continues to persist in this country, however the plight of the oppressed is constantly belittled while the sickness of the oppressor continues to be excused, unexamined and overlooked!
Black Americans are at a disproportionate risk of state violence, police brutality, discriminatory practices and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. In 2015 we still live in a world where our Blackness can be perceived as an automatic threat resulting in a “justifiable death” sentence at the hands of the police -- the very people who are supposed to serve and protect us.
Black people across this country have been methodically targeted by Police forces that show a callous disregard for Black life. Officers frequently use brute force or murder in situations where non-lethal measures and intervention practices are more fit responses. USA Today reports that according to the most recent accounts of “justifiable homicide” submitted to the FBI by local police departments, nearly two times a week a white police officer killed a black person in the United States during a seven-year period ending in 2012. This statistic only accounts for information that police departments chose to report to the FBI -- not the many cases that are buried and abandoned to cover up officers who’ve abused their power. The increase of police brutality cases that have gone public truly shows that this issue is not anecdotal or isolated -- this is not a case of rogue officers displaying abnormal conduct -- this is the norm. This is the system. The officer serves as the ‘overseer’ put in place to subordinate and intimidate. Like all manifestations of institutionalized racism, police brutality is a symptom of a much larger broken system that needs to be exposed fully and reformed thoroughly.
The recently released video evidence and year long cover-up of the Chicago shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald completely exposes the magnitude of systemic racism, misconduct and corruption occurring in police departments across the nation. The entire justice system is guilty of protecting, acquitting, and supporting officers (overseers) who unlawfully and unnecessarily injure, torture, and murder Black people. No matter how heinous the crime, no matter how egregious the circumstance, no matter how bountiful the evidence, no matter how obvious the discrimination against a Black man, woman or child --the lawmakers, the officers and the entire justice system that is supposed to protect us is rarely held accountable when Black people are the victims of state violence and police brutality.
Recorded statistics show that modern police brutality has picked up where Jim Crow lynchings left off. Isbael Wilkinson writes for the Nation, “Not terribly long ago in a country that many people misremember, if they knew it at all, a Black person was killed in public every four days for often the most mundane of infractions, or rather accusation of infractions – for taking a hog, for making boastful remarks, for stealing 75 cents... No trial, no jury, no judge, no appeal.” Although we may drink from the same water fountains today, statistics show that Black lives still don’t matter much more than they did in the Jim Crow era.
Structural racism has maintained a social hierarchy that keeps Black people on the underpinnings of our society negatively impacting our standard of living in almost every sector. Health, education, employment and economic disparities afflict Black people at disproportionate rates. The average total net worth of white families is $70,000 compared to just $6,000 for African American families. The unemployment rate is 10.6% for blacks compared to 5.3% nationally. There is also a tremendous disparity regarding race and incarceration in America. Black Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. According to Michelle Alexander, author of the New Jim Crow, “More Black men are in prison or in jail and on probation or parole than enslaved in 1850 -- before the Civil War began.”
Institutionalized racism is so interwoven in the fabric of America’s cultural identity that White people who enforce it and benefit from it have become blind to its direct correlation to their privilege. They remain oblivious to how their conditioning allows them to internalize stereotypes, values, and belief systems that regard people of color as inferior subordinates. They refuse to acknowledge that their “dominance” is a product of systemic oppression maintained by policies, practices, and procedures that marginalize minority groups. They see their power and dominance in society as a matter of merit, with little consideration for the huge head-start they’ve been granted due to over 400 years of free labor and the subsequent disenfranchisement of descendants of slaves.
The recent uprisings, protests, and movements such as BLACK LIVES MATTER have been gaining momentum all over our country because there is an urgent need to initiate change and to create balance, opportunity, justice, and protection in a society that has yet to offer it’s Black citizens full inclusion and equity. When white people say ALL LIVES MATTER -- like we are in some sort of competition for value, they are showing outright disregard or willful ignorance of the racial disparities and inequalities spawned by centuries of institutionalized racism and white supremacy which have created barriers and limitations that continue to cripple Black communities.
It is time for our Nation to end the charade and to finally confront the role that race continues to play in our society’s core identity. If we fail to address the maddening manifestations of structural racism -- if we fail to attack it at its root -- new fruit of racial disparity will continue to grow and racial divides will continue to widen in every segment of our lives.