Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Hip Hop scholar, activist, and journalist Davey D. It was was originally posted at Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner, and it’s an honor to have it posted with permission here at TIOMAR.
Michelle Obama gave a speech over the weekend at Bowie State saying that too many Black kids fantasize about being ‘ballers and rappers’. Her exact quotes were as follows…
Today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of ‘separate but equal,’ when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered,”
“Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours, playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper,”
She concluded that many Black kids think getting an education is acting white… Her quote was “reject the slander that a black child with a book is trying to act white.”
Damn Michelle who the hell wrote your speech??
A few things to think about.. First lets just go on record and note, those ballers and rappers that many fantasize about, played a key role in getting Michelle and her husband into the White House, not once but twice..From Lebron James to Jay-Z to Will I am toCommon to Beyonce who the First Lady famously asserted was role model for her daughters, were all up in the mix during their campaigns and subsequent inaugurations..These rappers and ballers went out and engaged their fans, by doing songs, concerts and special appearances to go to the polls and vote in what we are now seeing to be record numbers..
If we really wanna keep it 100.. I saw Diddy and Jigga hanging out at the inaugurations in 08 and not prominent scholars like a Cornel West who actually went and campaigned in 60 + cities for the president. We’ve seen countless pictures of rappers all up in the white house..Why wouldn’t a kid fantasize about being a rapper or baller when its them hob nobbing with the Obamas not his teacher or preacher?
Second point.. For the love of God, lets dispel with this 25-year-old cliché first uttered by Spike Lee back in the late 80s at the height of the crack epidemic about Black kids not wanting to read because it would make them appear white.. People who are trying to do the tough love thing have been running with that quote for far too long and it has no bearing in reality.
In the age of Youtube, the Internet and other forms of technology we have all sorts of cross pollination taking place. You have some kids in the hood rocking skinny jeans and skateboard gear made popular by white kids and in the burbs you will see white kids rocking a hat to the side and sagging pants made popular by their Black counterparts. Slang and patterns of speech are damn near universal at this point in time. In short if we’re going by style of dress and surface mannerisms one can question about what does it mean to be Black or white?
If we wanna talk about Black kids reading books and stereotypical perceptions behind that, we have to couch that in the context of disparities in education and how that plays out on the ground.
The fact is many of the ballers and rappers who kids MAY fantasize about are actually moguls in their own right with lots of money and perceived power which many have come to understand is the result of them having hustle, a willingness to grind and intelligence to navigate the systems before them.. Whether its Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Common, Rick Ross, Kobe or Beyonce, you name it all have made it abundantly clear their success was the result of them grinding ..Its been made clear their mogulness has been the result of them soaking up game and learning the business aspect of the worlds they enter. As Jay-Z once famously rapped..I’m a businessman, I’m a Business, Man If that hasn’t been made clear, its up to people like Michelle Obama to highlight that aspect vs deriding one’s ‘fantasy’