From Hero to Heel – Internets Dismiss Common Sense
The Internets never cease to amaze me. The over-the-top communications, sensationalism and trigger moves are in one part sinister and in another way brilliant. So for those that don’t know let me set the scene. About 2 weeks ago, Common, fresh off a Grammy win for his work in the moving film Selma, was a guest on the Jon Stewart show. The relatively lighthearted conversation covered a number of topics. When the discussion moved to race Common made a comment that I’m sure in hindsight he may have re worded.
Common said that race relations can improve with an increase of understanding and “extending a hand in love” towards White people. He also referenced that while everyone knows the ills of the past continuing to bring it up may not be helping. You can watch the vid below to hear his comments verbatim.
Now let’s put a few things on the table before I proceed because my feelings are less about the comment then the resulting actions from it. I personally feel Common’s heart and intentions are in the right place. He’s put too much work in for the people over the years for me to write him off over this, BUT I did find his comments here to be incredibly, unrealistically idealistic. In my personal opinion, based on U.S history certain things just won’t change simply via peace, love and nappiness. I don’t knock Common for the thought, but maybe he’s still on an emotional high post Selma award wins.
Anyway this content was shared by many people after its initial airing and no one seemed too pressed by what he said. About a week later the interview started reappearing on with eye catching headlines framed around Commons “extend a hand in love” comment. This set the always rational Internets ablaze with claims of “sell out” “responsibility politics” “New Black” and every other digitally birthday social buzzword and negative catch phrase you can think of. When I caught wind of this I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised at people disagreeing with the statement but rather how far folk were running with their “outrage and disgust”. Assuming you have seen the interview above to get your own interpretation of what the context was it seems to me from the reactions you would think Common was supporting a re-institution of slavery and personally turning our kids over to the KKK.
What worries me in these instances is that a person can build a career of service to the people. Lay a foundation of support and positive works and in an instance, in a laid back moment watch their name and legacy take massive hits because of the “what have you done for me lately” fickle social media era. Oh you can’t listen to Common any more? Ladies you don’t love Common any more? It’s all over from this one statement? GTFOH. Where did perspective disappear to? Why must all mole hills become mountains? Can we not disagree with one statement without the acting like a person has in reality done more for the people that many of us have individually?
And before folk think I’m insane or trying to excuse the statement let me add to the vantage point I’m coming from. How many of you are riding out to that new Kendrick Lamar album? KDot came through and dropped that #BlackLivesMatter soundtrack for real. He’s dropping that knowledge that Common used to right? Well while young Lamar is now Hip Hop royalty with To Pimp a Butterfly let’s not forget just recently the same people toasting him were roasting him for comments made on race relations.
“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.” -Kendrick Lamar in Billboard Jan 2015
See what the reactions were to this here then see how many of the same people are #TeamKendrick today.
Oh how quickly the celebrity worshiping masses forget. As we all sing along, myself included, to “I Love Myself” & “King Kunte” please take a minute to be as personally critical of the person we see in the mirror as we are to those on the big screen. If recent social events have proven anything it’s that we hold the power for change in our hands. Maybe if we weren’t see busy pointing the “oooooh look at him” finger so much we’d focus on the goals at hand.
Be clear. I’m actually in agreement with a lot of the views I’ve seen. Peace isn’t something we are going to achieve holding hands and singing songs with the folk that see us as being beneath them, but if this is how quickly we turn and disown our own people after years of work it makes me question our staying power. In addition to that it worries me for my own circle of people. It makes me wonder what the situation will be, what the topic of discussion will be when someone close to me that is fighting for us gets misquoted or has a line pulled out of context for clicks and page views. When you’re forced to realize that in this age you are one statement away from being thrown out into the street and digitally excommunicated. Your work means little in the moment vs sensationalism, gotcha media and the selectively over critical eye of the people. I don’t want that for any of my peers, but these Internets are super predictable so I know it’s coming.
I can only imagine what social media would have done to Nas back in the 90’s……