Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
As many of you know, the Million Man March recently celebrated its 20th year anniversary, renamed “Justice or Else.” The celebration was actually…another march. In Washington. A revival, if you will. Although no official number has been released, speculation has it that thousands of Black men, women, and children (and others) attended the event. However, the march — which was more of a culminated celebration of black love and a cry for unity than just a march — received virtually zero attention from the media.
Seriously, none of the major news outlets carried any information pertaining to #JusticeOrElse. Now, I understand that in this post-racial American apocalypse, Black lives don’t really matter, but give me a break. Not one iota of coverage? Not even BET (who eagerly aired the BET Hip Hop awards)? Or MTV? What about VH1? These three stations have virtually redefined their legacy and successes on the blood, sweat, and tears of African American entertainment and they couldn’t even give 30 measly minutes of airtime to Justice or Else? Hell, let’s throw ESPN in the mix as well, just to spice things up a bit. These outlets generate millions of dollars, probably monthly, due to African America. Be it sports or music, if you turn on one of these four channels at any given time of day I guarantee you that a Black face will appear on your screen in less than 37 seconds of the button press. And I vigorously invite someone to prove me wrong on that.
For the most part, the only way information about the Million Man March/#JusticeOrElse even reached the masses that were unable to attend was through social media. Facebook and Twitter were flooded with images of the Million Man March anniversary gathering. It looked awesome.
Meanwhile, while brothers and sisters were trying to work it out, ex-NBA all-star Lamar Odom was having his own celebration at a Las Vegas brothel. Following a reported drug and alcohol binge that last for 3-4 days, he was found face down in the room he rented, unconscious and unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital in a coma, and he is still in said condition right now.
According to reports, his organs are failing, he’s had several strokes, and doctors can’t even get a true measurement of the extent of damage because of the existing damage they have to first sort through. It’s also important to point out that many — if not most — reports are unconfirmed, merely professional speculation.
This media frenzy reminds me of the Bobbi Kristina situation. So much ado about things we don’t know. For example, Lamar could already be dead, and TMZ wouldn’t want you to know because it could affect their ratings. Plus, spinning propaganda about dead Black men isn’t as profitable as dragging a barely breathing one through the mud. I see you, Harvey Levin.
Notice how much press Lamar Odom’s tragic story is getting. They have NEVER talked about him this much. Not even when he won his second championship with the Lakers. Now turn that coin over. The media mainstays that have been pumping you full of depressing L.O. updates are the same ones that had nothing to say about the march. Coincidence? Hell no…
The older I get, the more cynical I become. I’ve honed that cynicism into a sledgehammer of optimistic pessimism, and I can no longer look at the world like I did when I didn’t know any better. The media (which is all controlled by 6 entities), seems to only report on the crime, the sickness, and the degradation of African American people, with no hesitation and no fucks given. Let us even attempt to publicly pull together for the collective betterment of the tribe and we become invisible. Why? Because a protest can easily be manipulated and reported on by the media as a riot. But a peaceful, educational, uplifting lovefest is clearly a little harder to color gray. It’s obviously easier to just ignore those things.
In the same vein, it shouldn’t take a celebrity’s slo-mo demise to highlight America’s unyielding obsession with substance abuse. Facebook was and has been flooded with Odomites sending prayers, well wishes, and cursing the demons that helped him get to this spot. Those same well-wishers probably have numerous relatives on Facebook with similar hardships that don’t receive half of the sympathy that their family members are expressing for a stranger. We worship idols and sob uncontrollably when they reveal the cracks and chinks in their armor, yet turn blind eyes to our own with the same problems. That, to me, is crazy.
So, as the world waits with baited breath on the next piece of Lamar Odom news, nothing much else has changed. Get well soon, L.O. God bless us all.
Words by Tony Grands