Everytime I turn around now, I see someone bashing another persons faith, race, country or culture. People really think "the world would be better without the Muslims". Or, "The Jews are really trippin' right now and they are shady". Other times it's "Whitey's on a world wide rampage right about now"!!! The next one is like "You can never trust these Nigraz, I mean 'African American's'- they are all crooks"!!
How foolish we all look. If you allow the worst of those from a race, or a faith to be the representation of the REALNESS of that faith or people- you will have everybody.
Why let terrorists videos represent "real Muslims" in your mind more than Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali? If you are talking about Islam today in it's current state, but you don't know who Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir and Abdullah Bin Bayyah are, you are out of touch.
Why let Sharon be your mark for "realness" of what a Jew really is as opposed to or capable of rather than Peter Z Vogller or David Grossman? I know all kinds of Jews who are beautiful people.
But it's the same thing with race. Why let white American Christians who were slave holders be how you see "real Chrisitans" instead of the Christian abolitionists or white freedom riders from the civil rights era? Why think of Jerry Falwell as more of a "real Christian" than MLK Jr.? The best man I have ever known on this planet is my father. He is Catholic.
Why let the Black man who stole your car be the benchmark for Black integrity? Why let some white kid who called you a nigger in school be your measure of all white people? Am I making my point? Every faith and people have their nutjobs and skidmarks.
Even Buddhists have had their wackos. Remember that guy in Japan a few years ago who who blew up the trains with the sarin gas? No faith is immune. No culture is immune, no race is immune to having it's fools.
What religion has not been hijacked by evil people at some point? What race does not have it's absolute scumbuckets thats make us all hang our heads?
Is is not the same thing in Hip Hop? All of the mainstream American folks know more negative frames of reference for this sub-culture than positive. They know somebody got stabbed at the Vibe Awards, but they never knew about the B-Boy Summit. They did not make it to the last b-boy jam at the Riekes Center for Human Enhancement. So they missed it when the electricity went out and a live band played jazz breaks while American b-boys and b-girls of all races threw down with their bretheren from Korea, Japan and other countries.
Most know Tupac and Biggies lives ended in blood and bullets. But they don't know how many times Hip Hop has brought people with serious conflict in they hearts together. They don't know how many murders and suicides have been stopped by Hip Hop.
I let the BEST Muslims, BEST Christians and Jews, Buddhists and athiests be the mark by which I judge the REALNESS of their faith. I let the best Hip Hop producers, lyricists, dancers and graf writers show me what the sub-culture is capable of. I think thats why I have come to accept so many people not like me. Even when I don't agree with them all- I still love them. I also don't let my disagreements overshadow the the things I respect and admire about them.
Right now, there is a conversation happening in another country and someone is saying "Those immoral AMERICANS are at it again"...They are judging us, by what George Bush, Condoleeza Rice and other neo-conservatives are doing. But do they represent the REAL compassion and empathy most Americans have for the rest of the world? We all know the answer to that.
At the end of the day all we can do, is TRY to be the best person we are. Be us Christian, Muslim, Jew, White, Black, Latin, Hatian, Hip Hop enthusiast, Spoken word poet, Republican, Athiest, Jazz singer, Democrat, martial artist, Green Party activist- whatever. We have to refine ourselves and give others the space and time to refine themselves as we grow. Only than can we know how real WE are, as human beings.
Not just America, but the global family, is at a crucial crossroads. Our ability to BE really human, and find the humanity in others in this age will be the yadstick by which REAL peace, or total war is measured. Good luck in your quest.
Adisa Banjoko is the author of "Lyrical Swords Vol. 1: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix". Buy one today at www.lyricalswords.com.