America’s Michael Brown Problem


Another day, another Black man becomes a victim of police brutality. And as usual, the message is clear: Black lives don’t matter.

While the recent murder of 18 year-old Michael Brown took me on a rollercoaster ride of anger, sadness, outrage, and hopelessness, I couldn’t help thinking that the entertainment industry’s on-going “campaign” of criminalizing Black people through commercial rap contributes to how cops perceive Black youth, specifically Black males. Of course, the problem started way before rap was around. Rap didn’t exist in the 50′s and 60′s but that didn’t stop the police from savagely attacking Black men and women. Still, couldn’t years of mainstream music that de-values Black life have a serious psychological effect on today’s police officers, and anyone else for that matter, many of whom probably already deal with deep rooted racism to begin with?

I believe the murder of Michael Brown and all other forms of unprovoked attacks against Black people have a lot to do with the kind of negative images the entertainment industry promotes. Last month’s article, “The Music Industry Hates Black People” reiterates this idea in more details.

Rightfully so, our hearts are broken…again. The problems are so deeply ingrained that no quick-fix solution will solve hundreds of years of systemic inequalities and institutionalized racism. But for the love of God and Black people, if there’s even a slight chance that the following suggestions may improve the current state we’re in, can we please stop supporting music and entertainment that trivialize Black life? Can we turn off radio stations that tell us Black people ain’t shit? Can we stop watching reality TV shows that try to make us believe that all Black women are petty and materialistic? Can we stop making excuses for artists who glorify the worst of the worst by saying that it’s ok because they’re making money? Can we stop dancing to songs that celebrate dysfunction? Can we stop spending money on an industry that sells poison? Can we stop singing or rapping along to songs that brainwash us to hate ourselves?

None of these suggestions require us to march, protest, spend money we don’t have, or risk our well-being. They’re easy to implement. Today, I’m not asking record companies, radio stations, and TV networks to change their ways. We already know what they’re about. I’m not calling on mainstream artists to use their voices and influence to speak on these issues publicly. It would be great but most popular artists are either uninterested or scared of jeopardizing their precious little careers. I’m asking us, everyday people, the common man, you and I who have so much to lose and everything to gain, to look within ourselves and make a conscious choice. If there’s even a remote possibility that turning off this form of toxic entertainment can make a difference and affirm that Black life matters, isn’t it worth it?