To live in a world that hates your body, mind, a soul, is to live in a world in which you must veil your individual identity and praise the construct which create you. So many Americans have unconsciously grown accustomed to the stereotypes and prejudices of others. It has gotten to the point where they do not even question their ideologies. But how does a group of people revamp the perceptions that people have about them?
In history, Black people have made many steps toward their freedom, but more so, the freedom for their identities. There is a unconscious power inside of Black people that was and still is aching to be set free. But the world misunderstood the way in which Black people were setting themselves free. It wasn’t through violence, although many thought that violence was the answer. It was through music which revealed and told stories. The power that lies within lyrics is the same power that released a culture. However, with anything, one, or a peoples trying to change the system order, there is a Black raven waiting to attack. In this case, that raven is the COINTELPRO.
The COINTELPRO is the Counterintelligence Program. The original goal of this program was to disrupt the activity of the Communist Party in 1956. In the 1960s, it expanded to include the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party. History depicts these groups as violent, so maybe in a way, COINTELPRO helped. However, how much did they help with taking down the Ku Klux Klan?
MARY TURNER YOU BRING LIGHT TO MY MIND & I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU:
In 1918 Mary Turner’s husband, Hayes Turner, was lynched. Practicing her fourteenth amendment right, Mary wanted justices for her love and demanded that the people who killed her husband be punished. Mary was 8 months pregnant when the police knocked on her door and told her that they had more information about her husband murder. As Mary willing walked out the comfort of her home, the Police led her to Folsom’s bridge and tied her upside down by her ankles. The beat her, shot her, and cut open her pregnant stomach. Her 8 month old baby came out of her stomach alive. The police then set her baby in front of her eyes and stomped her child to death. They STOMPED her child right in front of her like it was nothing. Then they set her on fire and through her in the river. Her husband, lynched. Her child, stomped to death. She, treated like nothing and all because she wanted justices for her husband. Her death was unbelievably horrifying. This is the system that people did not want to disrupt. But this was also the system that people could not continue to live in. If an innocent man is taken away from his family and his beautiful wife and her child are killed in a unimaginable and terrifying way, what else can a mass of people do to fight against this system?
Emmett Till. His name was Emmett Louis Till:
If you haven’t heard the story of Emmett Till then you cannot understand the hidden pain of many Black people. 14 year old Emmett Till was brutally beaten in LeFlore County, Mississippi in 1955 for supposedly looking at a White woman. Carolyn and Roy Bryant were married and had two children together. They were also a very poor family. Emmett was accused of looking at Carolyn, who is actually Irish. However, the story that many of the papers reported was that Till came to Carolyn’s store while she and her sister in law were in there alone. He then tried asking her on a date and she felt frightened and ran. Her husband, who was in Texas at the time, came home and his wife told him the story. After that, he went on a manhunt. Emmett was taken out of his great-uncles home to a barn where he was beaten and one of his eyes were gouged out. He was then shot throw the head. To dispose of his body, a 70 pound cotton gin fan was placed around his neck with barbed wires and he was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. Three days later his body was found. When his body was returned to Chicago, his mother held a funeral service with an open casket. She wanted the world to see what happen to her son. Black magazines and newspapers wrote about his story and thousands of people rallied igniting the civil rights movement. Till’s murderers were arrested and taken to trial. Of course, they were found not guilty.
Fred Hampton and Mark Clark:
On Dec. 4, 1969 Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered by FBI agents for trying to unify Black people so that, together, they could fight for equal rights. It was COINTELPRO job to to take down political parties such as the Black Panthers. Both Hampton and Clark were important members of the Panthers. The Panthers are a commonly misunderstand organization. This organization was not violent unless violence was taken upon them. There is only so much a person can take, but if they are constantly pushed, they are bound to strike back sooner or later. However, the government felt that they were dangerous. But the only reason they would be dangerous is by their voices and influence within the Black community. To try and stop that movement, the FBI infiltrated the organization and plotted to kill several members. Hampton and Clark were killed in their sleep on Dec. 4, 1969. Fred Hampton and Deborah Johnson, who was eight months pregnant, were asleep when police broke in and shot Hampton to death. Clark was shot in his heart. There was a total of 100 shots fired from police guns and only one shot from a Panther gun. Complete overkill. However, once the trial was brought to court, Police pleaded self defense and were found not guilty.
Each of these horrifying murders were supposed to scare, dismantle, and cripple Black culture/people. However, the only thing it did was unify the culture more and inspired many artistic works. One artistic work in particular is Rap music.
Of course you know that real rap music delivered messages to many of its listeners. Messages about struggle, pain, and inequality. There were rap groups like NWA and Public Enemy screaming “Fuck the Police” to any and everyone who listened. Soon their messages caught fire and brought a culture together. Music was something that the government could not stop. This musical art form was something that could not be controlled. However, they did try and stop people from listening to rap music by labeling it as “terrorist propaganda.” Rappers like Chuck D, Too Short, and 2 Live Crew have been brought before congress because of some of the lyrics they use. However, Chuck D said, “You can’t copyright no beat.” Meaning no one can stop him from saying what he wants because of the first amendment act and you can’t stop the music because there is no such law about using a beat to amplify words. Once this movement began, there was no stopping it.
Artist like Tupac and Biggie arose telling the struggle of Black men and women and soon after their success, they were gone. People believe that the beef between the two rappers were the reason the were killed. But what seems to be forgotten is that the same police officer was spotted around Biggie and Tupac around the time of their deaths. There seems to be no evidence for two of Hip-Hop’s prominent rappers, no justice, and yet again, somehow, the police were magically around. Remember, people do not want to see the system disrupted. Pac’s and Biggie’s murders weren’t enough to stop the music, but maybe hinder it.
Recent years hip-hop has had artist like Souljah Boy and 2 Chainz. Silly, bubble gum rap music. There is no substances within their music, yet these men make millions. How did rap music turn from meaningful and powerful to silly and weak? Feeble minds make for feeble talk. But with every weak link, there are even more powerful chains holding everything together. Rappers like J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar are still talking about the struggles and pain that Black people go throw. They are still preaching for equality for everyone, not just Black people. There music unites a nation and that’s something that can never be stopped. Pure, captivating, conscious music.
J.Cole’s song “Get free” is one of his many songs that speak for Black culture/American culture. The lyrics are, “We’re all together in the same boat, I know you, you know me.” Meaning, we all go through the same things. Regardless of our skin color, we know each other because of the issues that connect us.
Kendrick Lamar song High Power is another song that speaks for Black culture. The lyrics are, “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me/ Malcolm X put a hex on my future someone catch me. I’m falling victim to a revolutionary song” They explain themselves.
It’s the lyrical song that cannot be stopped. It’s the music that won’t let Mary Turner, Emmett Till, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark be forgotten. It’s the people that fight for their justice everyday and disrupt the comfort of the “system” that makes up American society.
“It seems like everytime you come up something happens to bring you down” -Tupac But in contrast to Tupac, there are always things hidden in the darkness waiting to step into the light.