Skimming campaign news items last week I came across a commentary on the theroot.com that made me giggle. It was called We Down With GOP and was about Hip-hop Republicans. Nerdy title aside, I launched into the article with as much objectivity as I could muster.
Lenny McAllister, the author started by telling a personal story that convincingly explained why Republicans are real people who have a right to their political opinions. McAllister tweaked my interest a bit when he said,
“A lot of labels, theories and bits of conventional wisdom have been tossed around by pundits and experts lately, as they try to figure out how citizens will vote in November. We are conservative and liberal. We are boomers, Gen Yers, the hip-hop generation. We are blue-collar voters, working-class voters and black voters. There are energized Democrats, disaffected Republicans and unaffiliated voters.”
How true that most of us feel dizzied by the sheer number of labels thrown around by experts and where we fit into this identification glut. Unfortunately, he immediately took his message off into left field in order to plug his agenda.
“There is one demographic category, however, that regularly gets overlooked. It is a group that most people simply laugh off, are puzzled by or outright dismiss. Meet the “Hip-Hop Republicans” of 2008.”
I’ve never heard of the “Hip-Hop Republicans”, but hey, I’m not all-knowing, so I checked with some friends who are hip-hop artists. Ironically when I asked if any of them had heard of Hip-Hop Republicanism, their reactions were amused, puzzled and dismissive…pretty much in that order. The following statement furthered my dwindling hope that this might be something other than a weak attempt to link hip-hop and republicans.
“The moniker may seem like an oxymoron at first, but the worldview that it encompasses fits the politics of many in the post-civil rights generation.”
Uh-huh. If you’re going to peg the post-civil right generation with a political worldview, you better have something to back it up with. So how does Lenny explain this broad assumption?
“It may be easier, in some ways, to begin with what a hip-hop Republican is not. A Hip-Hop Republican is not an Uncle Tom.A Hip-Hop Republican is not a sellout.A Hip-Hop Republican is not a race traitor, willing to sell out the best interests of the black community for the scraps off of the proverbial political table.A Hip-Hop Republican is not meek and mild, content to be a poster-child for GOP diversity”
Thank goodness Lenny! I thought you might actually be stupid enough to tout Hip-Hop Republicans as sell-out Uncle Toms. In all seriousness though, while I appreciate the cunning (although gross) sound-alike to Gil Scott-Heron, I still have no idea who or what fits into this demographic category. A paragraph later another catchy yet vague statement,
“Modern Black Republicanism—and notably Hip-Hop Republicanism—is an avant garde movement.”
Sounds really cool right? But it doesn’t actually mean anything, especially if today’s underground hip-hop community a) hasn’t heard of you and b) doesn’t care. Finally, after a little more blah blah blah and some shameful co-opting of Public Enemy’s lyrics, McAllister begins getting to the meat of the matter. He says,
“The pillars of Hip-Hop Republicanism are economic empowerment, educational choice, access to information and empowering the potential of the individual.”
These are some wonderful pillars for a political group to stand on. One problem though, Republicans don’t embody any of these interests for African-Americans or the hip-hop generation. Couple of things the “Hip-Hop Republicans” might want to consider…
1) The ongoing mortgage crisis constitutes the largest loss of wealth by people of color in history.
2) No Child Left Behind…need I say more?
3) Media consolidation has gone unchecked by our current Republican administration and all but obliterated access to independent information on radio and TV.
The last several paragraphs of McAllister’s article consist of him regurgitating the same old conservative ideals that have permitted generations of affluent whites to continually build wealth on the backs of marginalized people of color. Although Lenny did have one line that I thought almost got it right…
“Hip Hop Republican” speaks to the existence of a group that has transcended race in many ways.