Shminstrel Show? Should We Feel Sorry For Bobby Shmurda?



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I received a bunch of inbox messages this week with the familiar words, “Did you see this?”  This is what people write to me on Facebook when they want me to know about some kind of ridiculous embarrassment, tragedy or symptom of dysfunctionality that occurs in the black community.  On this day, I received the same message, with the same video, several times, with each person expressing the same outrage as the person before them.

The topic of conversation was the recent in-house performance that New York rapper Bobby Shmurda did in front of the executives at Epic Records.  The audience, consisting mostly of white people with a few black ones sprinkled in-between, was given a private “audition” by Bobby as he spit his lyrics in celebration of their newfound business relationship.

Some of my friends thought I would be angry about the video.  The truth is that I wasn’t angry, especially not at Bobby.  Instead, I felt sorry for him.  Bobby Shmurda is basically a kid, still learning how the world works.  It won’t be a few years before he finds out that the executives at Epic were only seeking to use him.  It won’t be until he’s 30 years old that he realizes2014-bobby-shmurda-epic-records-sha-money that they are laughing at him under their breath.  It will only be in a chance meeting with someone like Min Louis Farrakhan that Bobby will learn that he was volunteering himself to be used as a tool for the promotion of black male genocide and white supremacist thinking.

Bobby’s not the one at fault here, since he’s being manipulated by his overseers.

In case you don’t know, Bobby got his big break with a song called “Hot n*gga.”  In that video, the theme is pretty much focused on how quickly Bobby Shmurda and his crew will blow another n*ggaz brains out if they make him angry.  The song got traction on social media, since some of us think that black teen murder is cool, and also got the attention of Epic Records, which then invested large sums of money into the mass marketing of black male homicide all throughout the United States.

Of course Epic didn’t cause all the murders occurring in black neighborhoods, but they are certainly seeking to profit from them.  They may not approve of the death and decay occurring in the lives of young black men, but they are happy to glorify it.

In my city of Chicago, I see the product of the constant marketing of gun violence, where black neighborhoods are flooded with military-style weapons, but devoid of educational and economic opportunities.  I’m constantly bombarded with stories of infants being hit by stray bullets, or pregnant mothers being shot down on the way to the grocery store.

I’ve had long conversations with numerous psychologists like Dr. Monikah Ogando and Dr. Tommy Whittler, who explain how musical messages impact your subconscious thinking and play a very direct role in how a young black man with a gun on his waist responds to conflict.   It’s not cool for him to talk it out or seek out peace.  Instead, he gets applauded for being a “hot n*gga” and putting a bullet in another black man.

Epic Records and its executives, if they have even an ounce of intelligence, can’t help but feel the pangs of guilt that come from endorsing such a destructive message to young black men who are already dying and rotting away in prison by the truck load.  Bobby Shmurda is clearly talented, and a seemingly wise and seasoned black man like LA Reid could have easily redirected Bobby’s message to something that would help black men live instead of encourage them to die.  In fact, I doubt that any of the Epic Records executives watching that performance would even be in that room if they weren’t positioned to make millions off of Bobby’s exploitation.

If Bobby Shmurda were my son, I’d say, “Son, you’re better than that.  Your brilliance should be used to lift your brother, not to kill him.   You are meant to run the world, not perform minstrel shows for a room full of bigots.”  But the problem is that Bobby’s father was locked up in the prison industrial complex, which is why he’s quite content to stand in front of white folks and say, “I’m a hot n*gga.”

Bobby’s performance is a symptom of a larger problem, we know that.  And by encouraging him to promote and live a lifestyle filled with criminal, self-destructive behavior, they may be signing this kid’s death certificate.

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