Friday, January 02, 2009

On the Socially Unconscious Artist......

On the Socially Unconscious Artist:
An Open Letter and Analysis to All Black Artists


Heru Ofori-Atta

"Socially unconscious men should not be allowed to prosper."
-- The Honorable Dr. Amos Wilson

If you are not a serious student of Black history, from classical Nile valley civilization to the present, I don't want you rapping, singing, or reciting poetry to me. Period. If you are unaware of the trends in Black history, it is scientifically predictable that you will make a fool of yourself, and your people collectively. Since I am part of the collective Black people, I am pre-emptively asking you stop, before you get started with your musings-- today. These are serious times. Clowns and unaware artists are no longer funny. Artists are the primary purveyors of images and thoughts, particularly to the youth. Our youth are mentally dying in the casket of Americanism, and your pitiful existence is not helping to change the tide.

Recently, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion along with other artists of African descent. We were all from different areas of the planet, but what we had in common was our African lineage and collective history of white domination and exploitation. This is the unifying thread of all Black people worldwide, as none of us, from our particular groups, have found an effective program to fully eradicate the manifestations and implications of the ubiquitous plague: white supremacy.

More specifically, there were eight artists on the panel. All of the panelists were Black. Two artists were from the African continent, two were from the Caribbean, and the remaining four were from the U.S. All of the artists were "famous" in some form or another, through television, radio, and/or print media. The topic of the day was the responsibility of artists to their community, entitled, "Art and Social Responsibility." More specifically, can and/or should social responsibility exist within art? It immediately struck me that only in America, the land of the technically free, would this topic be up for debate.

Predictably, the panelists were divided in opinion. All of the artists from the Continent and the Caribbean were of the opinion that the purpose of art was to uplift the minds of the people. Of the Black artists from America, three were proudly, firmly and stubbornly against the notion of art being socially responsible, and one was on the fence.

In this essay, I will summarize and analyze the position of the dissenters. Their position was that artists should be "free" to say whatever they want. They did not want to be "restricted" to only deal with issues of African upliftment. One artist said if he wakes up in the morning and feels like writing about having sex with groupies and smoking (CIA) crack, he would write it and feel "proud" to perform it. After all, that's what freedom of speech was about. A recurring theme was they did not want to be "pigeon-holed" as conscious artists. Another recurring theme was they didn't want to preach to their fans. I informed them that when an artist sings, raps or performs poetry "bragging" about their shopping habits and new acquisitions of illusory splendor, they are in fact preaching about their stance on materialism. They commented that I was reading too much into it. I agreed. I also said that was the purpose of art: to be read too much into.

I informed them that in ancient Egypt, one could not become a musician unless they mastered certain subjects like philosophy, physical sciences, mathematics, history, writing and religion. Our great ancestors were aware of the power of music and would not allow imbeciles to wield a grain of power. Some of my co-panelists were visibly offended, but I believe in equality because their words offended me also. At the very least, our relationship was balanced by my "offensive" remarks.

Besides the disgust I felt towards these artistic mercenaries, I also felt pity for them. It was clear that they had been brainwashed out of caring for or about anyone but themselves, and had embraced certain elusive American catch phrases such as "freedom of speech" and self defeating concepts such as rugged individualism. Mostly, the aroma of laziness permeated their being. For it is laziness, in fact, that causes an artist to be detached from the awareness of historical trends and forces which inform the present day situation of the so-called individual and the people. Because of their laziness, they were oblivious to what history requires of the Global Black Artist.

This writing is not meant to be an exhaustive treatise on the pathology of the aforementioned artists. However, it is meant to highlight some basic themes. Most readers are familiar with the shallowness of their positions just as the seated audience that violently reacted to the dissenting artists. For those of you who agree with the positions of those artists, just remember Dr. John Henrik Clarke's words, "Europeans took what was sacred to us and made us shun it, and eventually laugh at it." That explains what made the dissenting artists not want to be "pigeon-holed" as conscious, but at the same time they don't mind being "pigeon-holed" as so-called gangsta.

They definitely don't mind being pigeon-holed as "Grammy winning artist so and so…" It is clear that pigeon holing was not the real issue. The real issue was being called something- in this case "conscious" -that to sane people would be a sacred compliment, but to insane people it is shunned or even laughable. So in their insanity and disconnection from an awareness of historical forces, they proudly discarded the sacred nature of being referred to as a conscious artist. The dissenters actually laughed at it in accordance with Dr. John Henrik Clarke's quote. These are the types of Black people who say "Black Power" to each other as a running joke of mockery. However, they are the same Black people who love to have power for themselves- individually. The idea of Black Group Power is what they are mocking. Remember, they are short-sighted rugged individualists: true Americans.

I suspect that the main focus of this type of artist is making money and therefore being popular. In his dead-end struggle, he has become the quintessential American. With America as the last superpower, and global representative of white economic and military supremacy, being American is the precise opposite to being African. In turn, to be an African, in the scientific historical sense, is to be the perfect opposite of being an American. To be American- the last bastion of totalitarian world whiteness and domination- in today's terms, is to be hyper-white in your tastes, interests and values. Rugged individualism is the cornerstone theory of whiteness, therefore, when someone says that their personal interests are more important than their community, they are being an American in its most descriptive and ideological sense. Communalism means nothing and is to be avoided in the American reality. This implicit law is witnessed in the phenomenon of neighbors in America not knowing each other- at all. Travel anywhere in the world, and only in European/whiteness based societies will you see this phenomena.

Another benchmark for being an American is to be a proponent of capitalism. The true American will promote it, even if he himself is a victim of it. Capitalism is the academically refined and polite substitute for the word slavery. In slavery, everything created by the slave is property of the slave-master. This is seen in record companies who always own the intellectual property of all of their artists' creations. In fact, the artist's album which belongs to a record company is called a "master". In real contractual language, the record company is free to "exploit" the album in perpetuity (forever). The artist has agreed with this arrangement for a pittance-crumbs-compared to what the slave master record company receives. All of this is done in exchange for fame. In other words, the powers-that-be say, "You are still a slave, based on our relationship, but I will allow you to broadcast the illusion that you are free and have 'freedom of speech'" to the other slaves, from which of course, I rescued you from. That way you can satisfy your empty ego, and I can build my empire. Thanks for the album, nigger. Or nigga, as you like to be called."

The famous slave then goes through an interesting psychological experience. He now has his ego stroked in many ways he never even dreamt about. He feels forever indebted to his slave master for at least making him a slave with privileges. Since he doesn't really own his intellectual property, he is in it for the temporary ride. This poor slave ends up trying to emulate his slave master and ends up giving his money back to the slave master or the slave master's associates and extended global white power family. The slave must have a Mercedes or any other overpriced German, Italian or British car. But to whom does he turn his temporary wealth over for the merchandise? A close or loose business associate of the slave master. Big pimpin' indeed.

The cycle goes on. However, since the slave is American in terms of ideology only, but not an American in terms of ownership rights, he is literally the illusion of a vested, bona fide American. The privileged slave is a sucker. He has no interest in creating his own industry of ownership. So in his frustration, the slave with privileges attempts to compensate for his need for power by becoming not a free man, but a second degree slave master to his own people. He thereby emulates the white slave-master, the savior and simultaneous killer of his dreams. Therefore in his art, there are all types of signs of Black hatred. Here are eleven scientifically observed signs:

(1) There is no sense of Black historical continuity. Veneration of ancestors is missing from their artistic discourse. In fact, they do not glorify their own ancestors, but rather the ancestors of others. Therefore, Italian mafia names are taken. Chinese cultural group names are taken, etc. Anything but Black. The names of authentic Black heroes and sheroes are never uttered.

(2) Any form of commerce that hurts Black people will be promoted relentlessly, ie. the CIA crack trade, referred to as "hustling." In this reality, Black lives mean nothing. Money through poisoning and addicting a vulnerable people is the order of the day. Here, the hustler aligns himself with, Marlboro and Philip Morris, in not so fine American tradition. Because, this hustler is unaware of historical forces, he is unaware of the Opium Wars and his complicity as an agent or asset of the powers that seek to destroy his own family. He is also unaware that during the Opium wars between China and England, where England was pumping opium into China, the Chinese executed all Chinese people who sold opium to their own people and considered them as traitors not heroes.

(3) The pimp is glorified. The pimp is a street way of saying slave-master of women, particularly Black women. The pimp has replaced the white slave master in relation to the life of a Black woman and her sexual powers as a source of wealth. He feels as if he owns her like property, and is the owner of any wealth she may produce. He in turn clothes her, feeds her and consistently brutalizes her based on his fleeting emotions and strategic ideas of implementing discipline. Pimp = Slave master in every sense.

(4) The elevation of Black women is refused. Because this privileged slave is for all intents and purposes an agent, asset or ally of the white supremacists, he focuses on keeping Black women- the bringers of all Black life- marginalized through imagery, lyrics and artistic intent.

(5) The elevation of Black children is refused. Since these artists are hysterical personalities, they have no meditation towards the concept of continuity. They have no foresight, therefore, the well-being of those who would inherit the future are not part of the equation. These socially inept artists are "here and now" people. Their whole life revolves around what feels good "right now." They also feel no sense of responsibility towards the global African community and barely feel a sense of responsibility towards their own children. They are the experiment referred to in the novel, Lord of the Flies: a people who have been cut off from elders and have to improvise throughout life, based on immediate sensations.

(6) His/her art is consistent with Cointelpro directives towards the stagnation and eventual retrogression of any and all Black Power movements, locally, nationally and internationally. S/He is the "breakthrough" artist waiting in the wings, patiently at bay, until Black consciousness becomes a strong part of Black cultural expression.
At the critical juncture where Malcolm X the Black liberation/Pan-African freedom fighter becomes the model to be emulated by the Black masses, the privileged slave is "put on" and subsequently "blows up" by pushing images of Malcolm Little aka Detroit Red, The Pimp and hysterical, hopeless, hapless, helpless negro without a cause, as the figure to be emulated. Through millions of dollars spent on advertising, Malcolm Little aka Detroit Red, the self-styled pimp gains more popularity than Malcolm X the freedom fighter. The privileged slave has served his master well. However, his master will of course charge all advertising money against the slave's royalty account.

(7) His/her art serves the overall purpose of setting the mood of ushering his own people back into slavery. This is seen through the lack of analysis and overall lack of awareness of a very real prison industrial complex, which is updated slavery version 5.0, Crackers Reloaded,the Empire Strikes Back, the Phantom Menace: The Sequel.
Prison is where a branch of particularly virulent unabashed white supremacists realize their pipe dreams. This branch of white supremacists are called conservatives in the pop-culture American political lexicon, but more accurately are cheap labor conservatives or more succinctly, slave masters. They are conservatives, because they wish to conserve the America of old, and therefore slavery. To them, this was America at its best. So they are the architects and executers of a web of entrepreneurial and legislative cooperation where Black people will be enslaved again and will work for free or close to free for $1.25 per hour making diverse products for the real pimp/cheap labor conservative/slave master to sell and thereby strengthen and maintain the white empire.
The socially unconscious artist/privileged slave is but a cog in the wheel of this simple yet elaborate economic machinery. This artist's only job is to make being enslaved/jailed seem cool. The slave master will of course take care of the rest.

(8) Their art is focused on the "bragging" about purchasing overpriced toys, gadgets and shiny things, referred to as "Bling, Bling" manufactured and sold by the slave master.
Due to his newly acquired merchandise (ego), this privileged slave wants to believe that his people love him, but is simultaneously suspicious of them, because deep down inside he is not convinced that he should really be loved by a people whom he vigorously and openly hates.

(9) This slave has no sense of shame in his art and is completely oblivious to the meaning of the word inappropriate. For instance, s/he would perform an explicit song about oral sex to a group of nine year old children and not see anything wrong with it (This is not an exaggeration, I have seen it). S/he will also perform a song/chant whose chorus is "Kill that baby. That baby ain't mine (© Trick Daddy, October, 2004, Howard University Homecoming)." In the same vein, s/he will perform songs about killing random other "niggas" for an audience and a community which is routinely heartbroken by the loss of loved ones due to de-contextualized and niggafide gun activity.

(10) To the trained ear and eye, it is clear that if in the proper historical place and time, this is a person who would have sold his/her own people to slavery to gain favor with the white kidnappers, not knowing s/he would be kidnapped and enslaved very soon by the same savior and simultaneous killer of his/her dreams.

(11) This slave will take credit for being "dope" but will not take credit for being a "dope". Although s/he is the poster child of anti-intellectualism, s/he is angered when called dumb. If you ask him/her what was the last book s/he read, the conversation reaches a rare silence and is followed by anger for even being asked that question. When the slave masters' TV shows broadcast the overpriced lifestyle of the privileged slave to the world, as if to say this should be the implicit goal of the viewers, no books or a library is ever shown at this "great" person's house.
Objectively, this type of slave is so pathetic, if he wasn't so valuable to the empire of slavery, the slave masters would kill him and relieve him of his misery. Even the slave master is embarrassed by this type of slave. Through the public acceptance and popularity of these artistic and general slackers, the powers-that-be have found another ingenious way to make a fortune and engineer their desired social agenda.

Because this type of artist serves no use for the upliftment of our people, his/her portion of the African meal should be death. As Dr. Amos Wilson said, "Socially unconscious men should not be allowed to prosper." Therefore the socially unconscious artists, does not necessarily have to be killed physically, but, s/he must be killedeconomically, socially, and psychologically. In the household of those interested in being African, the socially unconscious artist is considered dead. The fact that s/he even existed is only brought up as traitors and idiots are brought up in conversation to illustrate to others what not to be.

In the African conversation, the shamed dead person's name may not even be uttered for fear of giving him/her renewed life through the power of the word. If the name of the accursed is mentioned, the African will usually spit on the ground immediately thereafter in order to re-bury this wretched person back into the bowels of the earth. In this ritual, we say "poor Earth." We have feelings of compassion for the Earth, whenever it is contaminated with such a foul and malodorous being. However, we suddenly realize that the Earth uses cow dung and other feces as fertilizer. In this case, human waste and a waste of a human are identical. With this meditation, we are celebratory of the Earth's ability and genius to transform even fecal waste, into something useful.

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