by Bomani Armah
As an educator, artist and father, I am glad to see so many responsible adults express genuine concern about the reunion of Chris Brown and Rihanna (even if only artistically) and the affect it is going to have on young people’s perception of a healthy relationship. That said, I’m personally disappointed at how many people think there are absolutes when it comes to any romantic relationships, and that they know enough about Chris and Rihanna’s to tell them what those absolutes are. But those thoughts are for relationship blogs. This is more of a civil rights era style call to action, but with 2012 guerrilla tactics. Think about it, is our best strategy for raising children, with strong self esteem and healthy decision making skills, to beg multi-billion dollar media corporations to “pretty please” represent us better? In the end, protesting art that we don’t like is not the same as promoting the art that we do like. The question isn’t what message Rihanna is sending little girls, or Chris Brown sending little boys. The question is, what message are you sending our children. In the spirit of fighting new wars with new tactics, we must begin a #BUYcott.
You read that right. In the grand tradition of the civil rights I proudly inherited of, combined with the hip-hop tradition I was born into, I am taking a word, flipping it, spelling it wrong, and reclaiming it. In the end, every open letter to Riri and C Breezy would do the same good if it was sealed, signed and delivered to Santa Claus. Angry twitter hashtags amount to spit on the streets their conglomerate overseers don’t even walk on. Every blogosphere crusade against the media and its negative portrayal of black people is just adding to the white noise, making it harder to see the true beauty of our people.
A #BUYcott is our human megaphone, like the one that became so popular during the height of the “occupy” movement. One person says something everyone needs to hear, and whoever is listening yells it as loud as they could so everyone else not close enough to the original speaker could hear it. From the same comfy chair that you are typing out your comment section diatribe, you can be that megaphone for an artist who respects women and their ever expanding role in modern society. You could be the PR person for an artist who has your sense of artistic integrity, humor and taste. People look to music to be a beacon in a dark world. You can’t fight to take away this guiding light from a culture starved people without replacing it with something else. Think of the #BUYcott as “Follow Friday” (#ff) on steroids. We are not just following, we are pushing and promoting.
The internet has become militarized by angry people decrying the death of our culture. We end up screaming mere fragments of a very valid solution: “Until we stop giving them our money, they will continue to put out these disparaging images of us” and “we must make them respect the power of the black dollar”. That is only half the message. Use that $12 you are so fervently withholding from some corporate giant (who won’t miss it) and #BUYcott an independent artist who’s art reflects our collective goals, aspirations, and beauty as a people. Do you know how much push an artist could get with a concentrated infusion of money with social media and mass media attention? Much more than the pull of boycotts and hate mail directed at #teambreezy All from the comfort of your own couch. If only our parents and grand-parents participating in the sit-ins had it this easy.
No insurgency like this is done easily. But your role in this #BUYcott can’t really even be considered work, since it only requires that you open your ear and actively listen for the alternative. Saying such overused and untrue hyperbole like “no one is making good music anymore” is not going to work. How are we going to let the next generation of black kids know about the current super heroes? You’re going to have to tell them! Put your nieces and nephews on to the alternative and buy their music for your sons and daughters.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for pointing out the devil when I see him, but every breath spent chanting down Babylon, could be used to build your own Utopia. The momentary, and justified, sense of self-righteous you get from chipping away at this Goliath is temporary, and does nothing to pave a path for those actively representing us in a positive light. For every channel I block on cable, I find a bookstore, library, gallery or museum to fill in it’s space with. Every time I feel the urge to scream at Too Short and his lascivious attitude towards our women, I instead post a live video of my brother and true artist Christylez Bacon. Every time I’m disheartened by Nicki Minaj’s wanton misuse of her immense talent, I post a song from Maimouna Youseff and prod my facebook and twitter friends to check her out. This is the #BUYcott.
The energy I would use trying to bury the artist I don’t like, is better used to unearth a deserving indie artist from the underground. In the culture war, these indie artist are the freedom riders. These aren’t just open mic buddies living out artsy fantasies. They have dedicated their lives to refining their art, built up business mechanisms to promote their message, and take their social responsibility as seriously as they do their dance steps. All they need is for me to direct my energy towards them and #BUYcott their art. They feel and appreciate my love, more than any artist I despise will ever feel or shrivel under my hate. These #BUYcott artists are willing to go neighborhood to neighborhood, school to school, (literally) and deliver their art hand to hand. We know from history that people will select the clean water if given the choice, we are just making the clean glass of water even easier to find. I have seen personally, that when presented with this clean water, our children drink it up in gulps!
I would tell you about a hot stepping teen heart throb who doesn’t brag about his conquest of redbone models, or sexy pop singer who performs in her videos fully clothed, but I don’t know who those people are. That is why I need you to #BUYcott! Our culture doesn’t need to be saved, it just needs to be truly shown, and we are the ones who will do it! #BUYcott today!
BMWK family are you down for a #BUYcott? What artists do you know that should be added to the #BUYcott list?
Bomani Darel Armah is not a rapper, he’s a poet with a hip-hop style. Most known for his BET and viral hit “Read a Book”, he has released multiple music videos to critical acclaim, and his album “Radio Friendly” is still making noise on the underground hip-hop scene. In 2012 he released his first chapbook and album Circumlocution Vol II, a collection of poems, essays and song lyrics designed to challenge his readers and listeners. You can follow Bomani on Facebook, Twitter or via his website NotaRapper.com.
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