I have to admit that I’m very impressed with how the hip hop community has responded to the tyranny of Ferguson and this glut of what seem like the summary executions of black men. African american men anyway. And its not just the predictably and usually conscious, highly intelligent local Pittsburgh product Jasiri X who has made a statement but a wide variety of hip hop artists who I don’t usually associate with political statements. Or political consciousness of any kind quite frankly.
However, now that they’re rapping and singing and all, I wish they would get together and possibly ask aspiring billionaire Diddy to talk to his pals Jay Z and Kanye and do some lasting damage that would actually further the interests of African Americans. Something more substantial than a tune.
Here are three ideas that come immediately to mind. They all need substantial investment and money beyond a tune.
1. Completely fund the Ben Jealous Plan To Register Millions of Black Voters and Take Back the South (Cost: 60 million dollars)
Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, has come up with a plan to turn at least four or five southern states from Red to Blue. And its not a complicated plan. We just have to register large amounts of people of color that aren’t currently registered. Not only would it guarantee a Democratic presidency for the next two decades, minimum, but could generate three or four more African American senators. I kind of like the sound of Georgia Senator Van Jones. Jealous has put a price tag to do this at $60 million dollars. I know a lot of black people that would like to do that full time. One of the problems with Ferguson is not enough black people were registered to vote and the ones that did register didn’t participate in the vote. Yes, one or two of the most prominent black artists could single handedly fund such a venture but it would be easier if 100 black entertainers funded the whole thing. Here’s the study here if Rick Ross or G Unit ever read this. You know you could buy bling and fund this at the same time. Would be nice.
2. Create an African American lobby as powerful as the Israeli “Lobby”. (Costs unknown: But 30 million to start.)
One thing you may have noticed as we’ve watched the wanton slaughter of Gazans over the last month is how toothless our congress has been about doing just about anything about that. Even Great White liberal hope Elizabeth Warren thinks that bombing hospitals and UN schools is well within the bounds of war for Israel. (Very depressing Liz…) But if you’ve been around politics for a while then you know that everyone walks in fear of The Israel Lobby. You can watch the documentary or read the book. They’re both true. That lobby also targets black politicians who make the rational connection between the plight of blacks and the plight of Palestinians. (Or watch this Jasiri X video.)
But the weird thing about The Lobby is that its completely legal even though its kind of playing dirty. There’s no reason that African Americans couldn’t play that game. For example, “The Black Lobby” could not only defend black politicians who make that connection between American ghettos and Gaza but could push for other laws and legislation. You need about 30 million to fund it and you need the same kind of threats: primary or general election challenges. Just needs the funding. You combine this with number one and you’re talking about real power.
3. Fund higher paying service industry jobs by fully backing black owned fast food places like Jive Turkey and even Kanye’s chain. (Cost: Several million upfront but you would get the money back.)
I know of two hip hop artists who are already attempting to build fast food chains that employ African Americans (Kanye West and an aborted effort by Flavor Flav..) but we need more of this. Both Eric Garner and Mike Brown had terrible job prospects. Only black men can and want to change this. I imagine. My only complaints so far is that the plan seems to be to pay those black folks nothing and to feed the black community the same old awful food that puts you on the track to getting Type II diabetes. There are two prominent black owned fast food joints in New York. One is called “Jive Turkey” and the other is a salad place. They would love to have the funding to go national. And it would be a great thing if you paid black folks Costco wages (12 to 17 an hour, plus profit sharing would be a nice progressive incentive.) and you fed black people decent food.
These three are a start. But we’re going to need more than a tune to change things for African Americans for the better in this country.