It may be comforting to think that the violent lyrics of rap music are just the overly dramatic musings of creative, if rebellious, young minds. It's just words, isn't it?
Think again. In the last 12 months alone, several young black men linked to rap music have been killed in disputes stoked by a code of conduct that finds respect in retribution and mistakes slaughter for strength.
The deaths have received at least cursory news coverage, a tribute to the celebrity status of most of the subjects. But there have been no sharp denunciations of the violence from the black institutions that matter, no groundswell of anger or disgust on black college campuses, no marches or demonstrations led by self-appointed black leaders.
Had just one of these young men been killed by white police officers, the machinery of black protest would have revved into high gear, with press conferences, marches and demands for justice. The relatively muted response to the string of dead rappers — the suspected perpetrators are mostly other young black men — suggests that a dead black man matters most when his murder can be used as political propaganda.
At least the dead rappers get a big funeral and their heirs profit from increased sales. Millions of young black men across the country adopt them as role models and emulate their behavior. Some of them will die, too, but their deaths will be noted only by family and friends. It's no wonder that homicide remains a leading cause of death for young black men.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Voice of Atlanta
Another great column from the AJC's Cynthia Tucker, again assuming a lonely voice in the wilderness with her take on the recent murder of rapper T.I.'s best friend: