Tuesday, March 14, 2006

American Hunger Part 1


"Their constant outward-looking, their mania for radios, cars and a thousand other trinkets made them dream and fix their eyes upon the trash of life, made it impossible for them to learn a language which could have taught them to speak of what was in their or others' hearts. The words of their souls were the syllables of popular songs."  ~ Richard Wright, Black Boy (American Hunger)

 
I thought of this passage from Richard Wright as I observed our young people as I was riding the bus this morning. They all had their headphones blasting into their ears the sounds of the Top Ten from 106 & Park. They were oblivious to all that was around them and I imagined that their only goal was to get through this day without a teacher "sweating" them or asking them a question. (Thank God) I am not talking about all of them because there are some bright young people in the classroom that are going to do well in life. However, an overwhelming number are slipping into darkness. Their world is pitch black and all that they seem to relate to are beats. They can explain the beats and recite the lyrics to you verbatim. I don't have a problem with that because my generation (30-40 somethings) were at the forefront of the Hip-Hop scene. In 1984 I was grooving to Run DMC and UTFO. In 1988, I could recite the Jungle Brothers tape, Straight Out The Jungle, from start to finish. I grew up listening to the pioneers, and we were having a party with the likes of Kool DJ Herk, The Sugar Hill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash with Melle Mel. Well, we now know that Hip Hop has gone far over the edge and has entered into another dimension. The problem with its audience is that some of them can recite Mobb Deep, but they read on a 5th grade level at the age of 17. They can perform and do all the latest dances, but when it's time to perform on that math test they don't have a clue. They are falling short and it's not only going to hurt them, but the residual affects of it is going to fall back on us (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and society). Who really cares? There are some in the government who try, but the rest could care less. The record companies and media damn sure don't care. They are going to continue to promote what sells. So, while the government, president, and record company executives continue to distance themeselves from our problems with their "getaways" and fabulous homes in The Hamptons, we will still be here trying to undo the miseducation of our young as they continue to bounce and bob their heads to the award winning song, "Whoop That Trick!"

Photo Source:  haroldshull.com

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