Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grounded For Life

I was whisking through my closet this morning trying to find my cream sweater when a word caught my attention on the radio. "The Man". It was Hot97's Miss Jones ranting about the most recent "black injustice", the conviction of Remy Smith, aka, Remy Ma, who received 8 years at Rikers out of a maximum of 25 for shooting a woman twice in the stomach outside of a club in Manhattan. Miss Jones and her crew were divided in half. Some of them, like Miss Jones herself, were livid over the fact that her sentence was so harsh. The other half felt that she got exactly what she deserved. Calls flooded in, tempers flared and a popular debate began to play out (once again). My own anger started to rise, and by the time I had finished getting dressed and started searching for my other red flat, I wished I had the nerve to call in and make my own comments about the situation. But I was late for my train.

It's not that Remy Ma isn't a deserving a good human being. She gives back to her community (a Bronx native), she's a contributor to the hip hop community and she has even been nominated for a Grammy (for the song 'Lean Back' with the Terror Squad). But the fact still and indefinitely remains that she had a choice that night, and made the wrong one. The situation was that the victim (Makeda Barnes-Joseph, an acquaintance of Remy's) had taken $3000 out of Remy's purse at the club and the two scrapped over Remy's purse which housed a loaded gun. The gun "accidentally" went off (somehow twice) and pierced Joseph's stomach.

Remy's excuse...I mean explanation, is that it was an accident, and that she grew up "surrounded by poverty and drugs and violence and failure". Her fiance, rapper Papoose, who was in attendance during her sentencing, became outraged when she was casually handed 8 years hard time. He stood up and started cursing at the judge and had to be escorted out.

My opinion, if it's hasn't been made clear yet is that the whole situation is typical American bull shit. No one, under any circumstance should be given a pass for shooting anyone twice in the stomach. Yes, accidents happen, which is why carrying a loaded gun with the safety off is NEVER a good idea. Because you may be tempted to grab it in certain situations like when a hood rat "friend" takes money out of your purse. It's also why, you shouldn't be carrying $3000 in your damn purse to begin with. As for Remy's excuse, her tattered, ghetto childhood.... that's the most played out and tired excuse of all time. Thousands, MILLIONS of people grow up in the ghetto. Void of support, without any example of substance or good morals. Witnessing the cruel street justice that no one talks about but everyone sees. Growing up in the ghetto does not make you stupid. Being STUPID makes you stupid. Remy Ma, regardless of her reasons, and her remorse, is just plain stupid. She might have had a rough childhood, but she was also handed a one in a million chance of a lifetime, a chance at fame and fortune, which she chose to squander and exploit by making poor decisions. A multi-million dollar selling platinum single is more than most people in the ghetto could ever hope for. She had it, and this is what she did with it. 8 years is cake compared to what she should have gotten. And she'll probably walk in 3.

On the other hand, the reality is that just a month ago those bastard cops walked away free men after spraying 50 aimless shots at Sean Bell and his friends outside of a club. They weren't even slapped on the wrist for taking an innocent life and injuring several others. Yes, some of them were black, but we all know who they work for. Miss Jones was loudly expressing that the injustice is clearly in the favor of white-America and the victims are always black. I can see how easy it is to see that. It sure does appear that way. But when you look for injustice, you most definitely will find it. OJ Simpson got away with cold blooded double murder. R.Kelly has had his trial for kiddy-porn and child molestation postponed for 6 years while he tours around the world a free man. And every other day you hear about someone else in the black community fuckin up, and giving society yet another reason to think we're uncontrollable idiots (Wesley Snipes: tax evasion, Snoop Dogg, TI: weapons and drug possession, even Brandy's ass is killing people with her Range Rover). I don't think we should be unfairly targeted as a people and given harsher punishments than our white counterparts. But I also don't think should walk around doing dumb shit and then get Al Sharptin's ass to march for us when we are actually expected to face consequences. We are the proverbial 13 year old who has been grounded for misbehaving, and is now expected to do better. Held to separate standards as compared to our siblings, feeling victimized and misunderstood, caught in a cycle of retaliation and further unfair punishment. The cycle most definitely will not end on "The Man's" turn. It has to end with us.

Those in the entertainment industry should think about the messages they put out with their music. Remy Ma had the nerve to say, "Remy Ma is not even close to who I really am. I'm not a thug". Really? Well why don't you include that little sentiment with your overpriced music when you whore it out to little children in the ghetto who like you have also grown up with poor social examples. I think it's sick that people in the rap industry use the ghetto as their scape goat when they get in trouble but don't mind taking full advantage of it's residents when it comes time to dish out another pointless, poorly written single that is actually contributing to the state of the very community they claim they are victims of.

We cannot continue to cry every time the world treats us the way we have been indirectly asking to be treated. We can't point fingers and complain when we are forced to face the music. True, this is an unjust society, and Black people are seen as 2nd class citizens. But this is not new. NONE of us have ever grown up in an America that saw us as equals. So we can either choose to fight "The Man" by handing him reason after reason to continue to think we have no respect for ourselves. Or we can live our lives responsibly and in preparation for the injustice we know we will each surely face eventually. The choice is not pleasant, but it IS ours to make.