Monday, October 3, 2011

Tyrese vs the Real Decepticons

Tyrese vs the Real Decepticons

Paul Scott

Last Summer, fans flocked to movie theaters in droves to see Tyrese Gibson help the Transformers save Earth from the Decepticons. Now, he is in a fight with the real "Decepti-Cons" who are destroying the 'hood.

You know who I'm talking about. Go to any 'hood in America and you will see the invaders who pimp the community with overpriced chewing gum, stale potato chips and enough 40's to get the whole city tipsy. If you go in and ask for a bottle of natural spring water, you're fresh out of luck but if you are searching for a vintage bottle of 1988 Olde English 800, they got you.

Last week, during a radio interview on Wilmington, Delaware's Kiss 101.7 , Tyrese went in on the "homies" there for allowing a liquor store to be in close proximity to a school. Apparently, this did not sit too well with the station's head dude who, allegedly, bounced him out the door, not because of his stance against liquor stores near kids but because he had the nerve to refer to his listeners as "homies" on a Hip Hop radio station.

(Doesn't make sense to you, either, huh?)

Either way, allegedly, Tyrese's music has been banned from the station until further notice.

As Gibson has pointed out, this is not just about Wilmington. Go to any poor community in America and you will find more liquor stores (liquid crack houses) than anything else. For years, community activists have accused the high proliferation of these stores in predominately Black and Latino neighborhoods as being acts of genocide. However, while community activist Raheem Jackson can stand in front of a store with a protest sign and bullhorn for years and be ignored, one word from a celebrity like Tyrese can spark a revolution. An issue that has plagued communities for years is now being discussed at bus stops, in barbershops and tattoo parlors.

This is why Tyrese's stand sent shock waves through an industry that works in cahoots with corporations to keep the masses of the people blind to the facts.

What if people start really examining the question of why there are really so many liquor stores in the 'hood and then demand answers? Or if people start actually organizing to push legislation to keep liquor stores out of school zones? How about if other artists start using their star power to raise questions, not only about liquor stores but the prison industrial complex, high unemployment in "urban" communities, or how drugs really get into the 'hood ? It could start a domino effect that could upset the socio-economic order of this country.

That is why a socially conscious artist who uses his celebrity status to do more than make people buy cds or movie tickets is considered a threat. And many who have dared to speak out against social injustice have committed revolutionary, career suicide.

Instead of addressing complaints by celebrities, the "Decepti-Cons" use the oldest trick in the book: try to discredit the messenger. Back in the day, they would call outspoken artists, "Communists," then "militants." Today, they try to make using the term "homie" a federal offense.

Another tactic that they have used is a con game called the "straw man fallacy," which is when the real issue is replaced by a fake issue that has nothing to do with the real issue in order to distract attention from the real issue. (Rewind that back twice and think about it.) In this case, they are using Tyrese's, allegedly, dissin' the folks in Delaware as a straw man argument to draw attention from what should be the primary question, "should liquor stores be near schools."

As they say, the players change but the game remains the same.

Unlike the poor righteous teachers who are the community activists, celebrities have something we don't; influence and access to capital. Suppose, Tyrese and a few of his Hollywood homies put some dollars together and open up a health food/book store in Wilmington to compete with the liquor store? Or, what if he takes some of that Transformer money and opens up a radio station in Delaware that features talk shows and plays nothing but conscious Hip Hop? The possibility is there but it all starts with a conversation.

However, we can't put all the weight on celebrities. They can be catalysts for change but the real work is going to have to be done by the homies in the 'hood who are tired of seeing their children drop out of school in order to embrace a life full of addiction and prison bids.

Even though Megatron and his crew have lots of power, we must be willing to fight them if we are going to save this generation from destruction. And this fight won't be easy.

We must all make a commitment to become the "Transformers" of our own communities.

As Optimus Prime said at the end of Transformers 3 ” there will be days when we lose faith but the day will never come when we forsake this planet and it's people.”

Or the ‘hood.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283