Trayvon Martin, Hiphop, and America
"Zimmerman... you killed this kid... Trayvon, Trayvon."
The simplest words can say the most. Singer-songwriter Cody ChesnuTT (the holy man who so loved the world that 10 years ago, he gave it The Headphone Masterpiece) recorded a simple, painful song about the murder of Trayvon Martin. I heard the 911 call, I watched this kid's parents holding it together on CNN, and it broke my heart for the millionth time. A grown-ass man, with a heart and mind full of fear, gunned down their child, left him dead on the pavement, and didn't get so much as a ticket for littering. And—as I hardly need to tell you—it's nothing new at all. This is, criminally, a fact of life to brown folks, that it could always be you—and that there isn't shit you can do about it. From the top down, they want you to know that you just aren't worth the fucking paperwork.
It's totally surreal to me to watch these cable news talking heads talk about whether or not the guy should be arrested, knowing damn well what would've happened already (yeah, here it comes) if Trayvon was white. Listen to Ice-T:
"You'd know what to do
If a bullet hit your kid
On the way to school
Or a cop shot your kid in the backyard
Shit would hit the fan and hit hard!"
A "no confidence" vote for the Sanford police chief? Why stop there? "No confidence" pretty much sums up a lot of people's feelings about the constabulary and most elected officials, and why should they feel any different? Why should they have faith, trust, patriotism? Everybody laughing at the mor(m)on GOP shenanigans needs to remember that we could easily be stuck with one of them. When America so often shows you its real colors, why would you really be surprised? Why wouldn't people think that it doesn't make a difference who sits behind that desk?
I know, what does this have to do with hiphop? Only, like, everything. This incident speaks to the things that created the art form in the first place, in a burned out, abandoned hood of a bankrupt city. It (along with a million other things) speaks to the fact that, despite hiphop's defiant, multiracial culture literally changing the world and producing a series of hugely influential and very rich men—that despite us having a black president, "the same old shit remains," as Stas from THEESat put it.
So wassup? Do you need a slick, re-tweetable, re-bloggable viral video to make you care (and only for a period not to exceed one business week) about the snuffing of young black lives? (Accordingly, ChesnuTT called his track "Zimmerman 2012"; you can find it online.) So wassup? The only question that ever matters: What are you going to do about it?