“Them Alphabet Boys got us under surveillance” - "Soul Survivor", Young Jeezy
The National Council of Black Leaders recently held a public forum called “The Conspiracy to Destroy the ‘Hood. “ When the first speaker, Dr. Afrika Shabazz revealed tons of information exposing a genocidal plot against African Americans, the panelists just rolled their eyes and snickered in disbelief. However, when Leroy Johnson complained that somebody had sent his voter registration card to the wrong address, they became outraged and demanded an immediate federal investigation into voter suppression...
Although, most people won’t admit it, we all believe in conspiracies. This world is too jacked up to be an accident.
Americans have long grappled with alleged conspiracies, from who shot Abe Lincoln to whether or not Elvis Presley is still alive and working at the Wal-Mart in Memphis. The most interesting conspiracy theories, however, have centered around the ‘hood, whether it be a secret sterilization formula put in fried chicken, or clothing companies secretly owned by the KKK as Dr. Patricia A. Turner examined in her work, Heard It Through the Grapevine.
First, there’s the vote conspiracy.
A few years back activists sounded the alarm that the meter was about to run out on the African American right to vote unless somebody did something real quick. (I’m still not sure what that something was supposed to be?) This year, the panic term is “voter suppression,” as there is, supposedly, some master plan to stop Black people people from voting.
Newsflash! With our jacked up priorities, no secret plot is needed to keep folks from the polls. If Jay-Z decides to hold a free concert in Madison Square Garden on November 6, you can kiss 80,000 votes goodbye - automatically.
Then there’s the infamous “movie ticket conspiracy," whereby movie producers warn Black folks to keep an eye on their ticket stubs so the box office rating points will go to Soul Plane Part 2 instead of the new Michael Moore documentary.
While these types of conspiracies are taken very seriously by some people, the more serious ones that deal with Black survival are written off as paranoid ramblings.
During the early '90s, researchers such as Steve Cokley Zears Miles and Keidi Obi Awadu spent countless hours on Black college campuses and in bookstores sharing information on topics from “The New World Order “ to “Why AIDS is so prevalent in the Black community.”
Also, “The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys” was tackled by such master teachers as Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu and Dr. Asa Hilliard, who painstakingly tried to convince Black parents that the reason why Lil Tyrone couldn't read wasn’t because he was dumb but because of a Western mis-educational system.
However, by the mid '90s, the heyday of these lectures had passed, as African American-owned bookstores struggled to keep the lights on, and Black college kids had more important things on their minds, like who was gonna perform at the homecoming show.
However, interest picked back up after 9/11/01, courtesy of videos like Loose Change that questioned the government's official report of the attack on the Twin Towers. Even rappers like Jadakiss begin to ask why.
More recently, there has been an interest in Hip-Hop conspiracies, whether it be the death of a famous rapper, government persecution, or a secret organization within Hip-Hop with a diabolical plan to brainwash the masses.
Although the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. happened over 15 years ago, Hip-Hop fans are still discussing conspiracy theories as though they happened yesterday. As Dead Prez once said on “Bigger Than Hip Hop”, “Who shot Biggie Smalls/ if we don’t get them/ then they’ll get us all.”
It is also strange how so many rappers, especially the ones who make politically conscious music like Nas and Lauryn Hill wind up owing Uncle Sam millions of dollars.
This mystery is not limited to Hip-Hop, as it has been alleged that the Feds have, historically, targeted Black entertainers.
James Brown wrote in his memoir, I Feel Good, “All of us who were Black and in the public eye were under intense surveillance, harassed by the IRS and subjected to all forms of underhanded activities.”
Although Redd Foxx was not known for overt political activism, according to Pat Thomas in his book, Listen Whitey, he funneled some of his "Sanford and Son" money to the Black Panther Party during the '70s. Also, in his book, Black and Blue, Michael Seth Starr wrote that the comedian alleged that the IRS targeted him “because of his skin color.”
It has long been rumored that the Feds keep a close watch on Hip-Hop artists for criminal and/or political activities, but recently, it was revealed that they also keep an eye on the fans. According to recent news reports the white rap group, Insane Clown Posse, is threatening to sue the FBI for labeling their fans (The Juggalos) as a gang.
This is nothing new to the boyz in the ‘hood, as states such as North Carolina have a GangNet database where they keep information about children suspected of gang affiliation.
Perhaps the most popular Hip-Hop conspiracy now is the idea that there is a secret nefarious club in Hip-Hop in which admittance can only be gained through a secret initiation.
Whether this is true or not is debatable, but what is not debatable is that it seems that participating in the genocide of the Black community by either sellin’ crack or shootin’ somebody seems to be a prerequisite for getting a record deal.
Of all the Hip-Hop conspiracies, the least believable is the “somebody hacked my Twitter account” conspiracy that artists like Chief Keef (or their PR people) use when they get called out for tweetin’ somethin’ wreckless.
Maybe conspiracies are true. Maybe they ain’t.
However, the best way to counter any plots against us is to not focus on what “they” are doing to us but what “we” are doing to ourselves.
For instance, if there is a conspiracy to use 16-year-old rappers to promote Black-on-Black violence, the counterattack would be to use the anniversary of the death of Tupac Shakur (September 13) to demand an end to murder music.
Most importantly, conspiracies can only survive when the masses of the people are kept in a state of ignorance.
So the ultimate solution is what The Wu Tang Clan suggested on "C.R.E.A.M.":
”...to teach the truth to the young Black youth.”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is This Ain’t Hip Hop, a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on his website NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).