The Termination of Black Culture:
Is Black Music Month Worth Celebrating
I recently saw the new blockbuster movie, Terminator Salvation; the latest installment of the Terminator series that started back in the 80's. The Terminator movies are about what happens when a machine called Skynet ,which was originally created to serve mankind ,one day decides to turn on its masters and create a bunch of cyborgs to exterminate humans.
This being Black Music Month, it reminded me of the state of black culture in 2009. In this case, the mega entertainment corporations are ,collectively, Skynet; dead set on blasting black culture to oblivion.
Black Music Month, was started in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter as a way to honor black musical contributions to America but as I listen to the radio and watch BET , I have to ask myself. "What is there to celebrate? The fact that my teenage daughter and her homies think that the highest form of black cultural expression is being able to do the "stanky leg?"
Contrary to popular belief, African people have a rich cultural heritage dating back thousands of years. So powerful was the culture of Africa that one of the first things that the slave traders did was to take away the drums of the captive Africans.
Scholars have suggested that "black" music is the only truly American music. For if it was not for the influence of black entertainers there would have never been an Elvis, Madonna, Kenny G or a Britney Spears. America would have just been stuck with Barry Manilow records in continuous rotation.
Perhaps placing the custodianship of black music in the hands of mega-corporations started off as a good idea. Maybe the early artists saw it as a way to project their gifts to the world or a way to make more money. But as they say , the road to the hot place is paved with good intentions.
At some point the monsters that we created back-stabbed us and turned the culture that was our lifeblood into a weapon of mass destruction.
With the current war raging between the recording industry and the radio monopolies over HR 848, it seems that the machines are even fighting amongst themselves. As in the previous Terminator movies, the radio and music executives appear to be human but under their faux exoskeletons beat the hearts of cold calculating machines doing the bidding of Skynet.
While there has been a lot of discussion over efforts to "save black radio" from the Performance Rights Act legislation that some radio execs have said will be the death knell for black radio, the bigger issue that is, skillfully, being left out of the discussion is how do we save black culture for future generations?
There is an old African proverb that says when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. If the grassroots activists are left out of this discussion , unfortunately, it will be our children who will continue to get trampled.
So what do we do?
Writer Harold Cruse once proposed a "cultural revolution" which would lead to some sort of cultural socialism, whereby, the people would control black culture and its means of dissemination.
Dr. Claude Anderson in his book "Black Labor, White Wealth" takes a more capitalistic approach by saying that "the wealth and power of the music industry offer the most compelling reasons for blacks to recapture control of this cultural resource."
It must be understood that we are not suggesting just having black faces in high places but a system that is used to supply the needs of the black community both economically and socially.
The primary question facing us this Black Music Month is does anyone still care about the fate of black culture?
Seems that those to whom we would look to be on the front line of a recognisance mission to reclaim black culture have either been blasted by money green laser beams or are being held hostage by promises of record deals or airtime courtesy of Skynet.
However, a few of us are still part of the resistance. We have not lost faith in the regenerative power of black culture that has the ability to awaken the African genius that lies dormant in the minds of this Hip Hop generation.
The war will not be fought by some big black empowerment organization but by small bands of rebels in outposts across the country who demand to be heard. It is now time for the few of us who are willing to fight to reclaim black culture to come forward.
To borrow from the John Connor character in the movie.
"If you are hearing this message, then you are the Resistance."
Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com/
He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 firstname.lastname@example.org