An Open Letter to BrainWashed…

You ever get into a conversation with somebody and they say something so silly….so offensive…so stupid… but for some reason at that very moment the only retort you can come up with is something lame like, “whatever”! Later on your brain sends word that it has compiled facts and figures and witty retorts by the dozens but then its too late…the original conversation has ended or taken another turn. Frustrating right?!

Well Im not letting it go that easily..It may not be my wittiest comeback but I gotta say something, so Im gonna use this post to send an open letter to “The Brainwashed”.

Dear Brainwashed:

I didn’t get a chance to respond to your thoughts the other day when we were discussing “today’s generation” but I disagreed so strongly about some of the things you said that I felt obligated to set the record straight.

I don’t buy into the myth that today’s music “serves only to lead our youth to a path of self destruction.” Oh, Im sure you were right there co-signing in 1993, when Rev. Calvin Butts said “There is a direct relationship between sexually explicit rap lyrics and a 9 yr old girl bumping and grinding on the street after school and her becoming the next casualty of an unwanted pregnancy.” Sounded ominous and urgent didn’t it? But to quote the character “Sporting Life” (see Gershwin’s musical Porgy and Bess)….. “It Aint Necessarily So”.

During the late 50’s a television sitcom called “I Love Lucy” was wildly popular. The shows fashions, hairstyles, furniture were all copied in some form all over America. Among the words that were censored in the scripts was “pregnant”and although Lucy was clearly with child, the happily married couple was never seen in the same bed together…their bedroom had two twin beds. This type of censorship was supposed to keep America’s moral compass intact. Statistics tell a different story. It’s estimated that anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 illegal abortions were performed during the I Love Lucy era…many on young women who died in the process. Television didn’t show Lucy and her hubby in the same bed but the young people watching were getting busy…and getting busy to the extent that they were willing to break the law to “fix things”. So much for America’s moral compass.

This may come as a shock to you Dear Brainwashed but rap artists did not invent explicit lyrics:

Jook joints and the music they offered were an abomination to moral crusaders of the 30’s and 40’s; participants were warned that black folk would not…could not rise to their full potential in this world if they were poisoned by this “devil music” as sung by Helen Humes on Million Dollar Secret and Dinah Washington on Long John Blues. If the young people in those times were allowed to listen to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters sing Work With Me Annie and its follow up song Annie Had a Baby, they warned… the whole of the Black race would shrivel and perish in its own evilness.

Malcolm X was born in 1925 and Martin Luther King was born in 1929 and despite living in an era where jook joint music was at its explicit best…. both of them managed to fulfill their destinies. President Barack Obama came to rap music late (God bless Reggie Love for passing it on) but his appreciation of the genre did not fry his brain to the extent that it prevented him from winning the election to the highest office in the land. What’s that you say Dear Brainwashed?….Malcolm and Martin and President Obama are special?….exceptions? Im not buying that either. What about the regular Black folk…the maids, nurses, red caps, funeral directors, inventors, tradespeople, teachers, writers, artists, factory workers….how did they manage to stay out of the devils’ grip?

Which brings me to “Otis” by Jay Z and Kanye West: My Dear Brainwashed…while we were having this conversation, didnt you notice the size of my head? Well, lemme tell you…my head aint big for nothing so please…don’t try to discredit the track by telling me that they are still concentrating on bragging about their wealth. Check the history of the genre..check our cultural history in general….bragging is what we do (it’s just that “clean as a broke dick dog” has been replaced with “photo shoot fresh”) and if you would stop bending over backwards to look for the negative…stop talking foolishness and actually listen for a change…you will not only hear Hov and Ye saluting the genres’ roots but you will also hear Otis Redding funking it up in the background telling Black men that if for economic reasons they cant do any better for their woman, they should “try a little tenderness”. I’d say that’s a winning combination.

So please Dear Brainwashed…miss me with that “this music is gonna ruin the younger generation” myth…it didn’t ruin us then and its not gonna ruin us now. What you might wanna do is relax and try moving in the direction of proudly claiming your own culture. Culture is what sustains us generation after generation; like it or not, rap music is now a viable part of that culture and its impact is worldwide.

I need you to think about this dearheart…many things have happened to Black people since we got here…shameful, horrible things (none of it related to the music we listen to) and despite it all …”still we rise”.

Love you like my Grandma’s Sunday Dinner Rolls,
Miss Peaches

P. S.: The supportive soundtrack for this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBOwgkMmlUc Dinah Washington

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aiMHwWmOHQ Helen Humes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nh2H3IdN98 Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

~ by livefromheadqcourterz on August 3, 2011.

15 Responses to “An Open Letter to BrainWashed…”

  1. Well said! It’s the same kinda conversation I’ve had with my mother many times as she frowned upon my 7 year old singing “Born This Way” and “Raise Your Glass” Upon reading the lyrics, she began to understand why I don’t censor ALL the music in our house. I also feel some that should be censored still need to be heard AND DISCUSSED. Hey…I still remember her jammin’ to some Teddy Pendergrass…

  2. Child! Very well put! I feel like I’ve just been whooped and I’m not the intended target! If people would only opened not only their ears but their minds also they may find a whole new world within this music called hip hop.

  3. Thank you Miss Peaches! OUTSTANDING!!!!

    DJ Paradise
    djparadise.net

  4. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN RAP MUSIC OR WHATEVER
    THE GENRE IS CALLED, BUT I DON’T THINK, EVEN IN ITS GREATEST
    EXCESSES, IT POSES A THREAT TO SOCIETY OR DOOMS ITS
    SUPPORTERS TO ETERNAL DAMNATION.
    THE REASON I BELIEVE THIS IS BASED ON ONE SONG — I GREW UP
    LISTENING TO THIS “SONG” AND I HAVE ALWAYS FELT IT WAS
    THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL AND COULD NEVER BE SURPASSED
    FOR ITS INSANITY AND WORTHLESSNESS; I QUOTE:
    TUTTI FRUTTI, AW ROTTI
    WOP – BOP – A -LOU – MOP – ALOP -BOM -BOM
    I LOVED THAT SONG AND I STILL LOVE THAT SONG OVER 50 YEARS LATER. YET, FROM THE FIRST SECONDS I HEARD IT, I KNEW IT WAS
    TRASH, BUT IT WAS THE TRASH OF MY YOUTH, IT WAS FOR THE YOUTH OF MY ERA AND I DID AND STILL DO EMBRACE IT — AS THE FOLKS OF TODAY EMBRACE THEIR MUSIC – WHICH HAS TO BE SUPERIOR TO
    WOP – BOP – A – LOU – MOP – ALOP – BOM – BOM
    SO, I UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT THE CONCLUSIONS OF MS. PEACHES AND I WOULD ADD, AGE IS NO BARRIER TO THE APPRECIATION OF MUSIC.

  5. Miss Peaches, I feel you. When I was sixteen, my father forbid me from seeing the movie Purple Rain, he thought it too sexually explicit. I obeyed his request and saw the movie on video (dating myself) when I was old enough to make my own decision. After seeing the movie, I couldn’t believe my father forbid me from seeing it. Did he think watching Prince have sex with Apollonia would make me run out and have sex on Lake Minnetonka myself?! Ridiculous!! Miss Peaches you said it best above, “many things have happened to Black people since we got here…shameful, horrible things (none of it related to the music we listen to) and despite it all …’still we rise.’

  6. Oh Miss Peaches, you ain’t NEVA lied!!

  7. As a person who works in social services I can see how some music may have an effect on youth, and I hate to admit it. The problem is not necessarily the music, but if your a 10 years old girl and hear shake ya ass, shake ya ass 100 times a day and you have no adult present to slap you up side the head and say knock it off it’s not appropriate to dance like that in church, school or where ever, then it does have a negative effect. When I 1st heard NWA I thought “WTF” is this? I was in awe and amazed that they could say those things, If I didn’t have family support and a mother who I was a little afraid of I may have grabbed my pocket knife and robbed the bodega for all it’s lemonheads and boston baked beans. I guess I’m just saying our youth need support as they navigate this tangled web we call life.

  8. love the post!!!

  9. it aint nuthin like hip hop music….you like it cause you choose it!!….
    hope yall know the rest

  10. I had this same dicussion via facebook. Rappers are entertainers. Otis is entertainment. Fathers need to raise their kids whether they’re @home with them or circumstances dictate otherwise. Why do Black people expect entertainers and athletes to be our saviors? Listen to Roots or Dead Prez or Talib Kweli if bragadocio isnt’t ur thing. They really did a number on us. 400+ years later and we still have this crabs in a barrel attitude. Ur piece is well written.

  11. Love the post, but I must say that this reminds me of the bible verse which states that there is nothing new under the sun. Our parents and their parents before them frowned upon the music we loved as kids. My mother HATED push it real good by salt n pepa and I hate everything little Wayne that my teenage son listens to. Long story short , the music ain’t goin no where. Like roaches, rodents and public housing- it will always be around !

  12. Ms. Peaches, your post was excellent. I look forward to reading more of your posts! Where have you been hiding? We more good writers like we need more good rappers.

  13. Welcome back Peaches your insightful and passionate writings have been missed!
    I’ll say two things: content of character is not determined solely by lyrics in a song or I’d be somewhere acting out the lines from what is still one of my favourite songs “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics; and two I am so glad my parents were never as stifling as to wrap me in a cocoon and seal me away until adulthood thus limiting my exposure to the cultural diversity that is the world. The exposure, the experience and choice is called living.

  14. Peaches! You are such a gifted writer, What a powerful piece. Not only do you drop current science, but you take old heads like me back to the time when I was the age of Hov and Ye. Therefore giving your audience a history lesson I was enamored with our music at that time as any one today. it is a pleasure to have lived a portion of our musical history, and seen a lot of it live. I don’t who Brainwashed is but they are nuts and ashamed of our culture. Keep writing,,, you’re like Grits and Bacon on a summer Sunday morning. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading

  15. Thanks to everybody who took the time to comment; your feedback is appreciated!

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