When things don’t seem right and injustice is all around, sometimes you need a loud, booming song to re-center you and remind you that our people are resilient and that resistance to the evil all around us will be the order of the day.
A day after the incredulous verdict around Michael Dunn where jurors could not convict him of murdering unarmed Jordan Davis while simultaneously convicting him of attempted murder of the men who survived the shooting, has had me listening to the song ‘Day of Outrage‘ by X-Clan. The searing lyrics has me wanting to hear more songs like this as I recall the climate that led up to the landmark song…
For those unfamiliar, back in August 1989, folks were feeling overwhelmed after the killing of 16-year-old Yusef Hawkins at the hands of an angry white mob who thought he was dating a local white girl named Gina Feliciano…About 30 men laid in wait near the house of the girl who was believed to be dating a Black men. They all had bats.
Yusef and his friends came out of candy store and coincidently walked by the building when the men with bats confronted them. No words were exchanged, No bats were swung, Yusef was shot twice in the chest and left dead holding onto his candy bar. The man who shot him was convicted of second degree murder the other main defendant was acquitted but found guilty on a lesser charges.. Yusuf wasn’t dating anyone, he and his friends were simply responding to an ad for a used car.
At the time New York City was in an uproar and the rap group X-Clan responded . They were part of an organization called Blackwatch which was led by group leader Professor X who was the son of long time activist Sonny Carson who was one of the group’s mentors and advisors. .. On the Day of Outrage they led help lead 50 thousand people across the Brooklyn Bridge… The song they did ‘Day of Outrage’ was among the many songs artists were doing at the time to offer the community a soundtrack for the racial struggles they were battling.. Here’s an article on the day of outrage http://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/01/nyregion/day-of-outrage-march-ends-in-violence.html
Fast forward to today in the aftermath of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis to name a few of the many, one can’t help but wonder what it would be like if popular artists like Nicki Minaj had taken all their anger and frustration expressed in songs like ‘Looking Azz N*ggas‘ and applied that same energy and venom to the racist folks in Florida who time and time again show disdain and disgust for our people.
In the video, instead of shooting guns at Looking Azz N*ggas what if she pointed those guns at Looking Azz Racists in Florida who set George Zimmerman free? Or what if she pointed the guns at ‘Looking Azz’ Jury members who got hung up and handed down a mistrial verdict to an un-remorseful murderer like Michael Dunn? Even better what if those guns were directed at the state prosecutor Angela Corey who lost two cases of unarmed Black teenagers being killed via Stand Your Ground, leaving many to believe she threw the case?
Maybe a venomous song could be done directed at George Zimmerman himself, who is seeking to capitalize off murdering Trayvon Martin and reinvent himself as a ‘celebrity boxer’…
Perhaps a stinging song could be directed at ALEC members or Stand Your Ground advocates who created this climate of fear, suspicion which is leading to the murder of innocent unarmed Black folks.
Where are our most popular and most visible artists with their lyrical take downs of this injustice system and the people who run it. ? How about a song directed at Looking Azz Government officials in Florida’??
Instead of distorting the image and legacy of Malcolm X, Emmett Till, Harriet Tubman, Harry Belafonte and other folks who symbolize our freedom struggle, some of these artists should go all out and lambast folks who actively and routinely work against us. For example, where’s the songs to bash Congressional leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor over their policies like cutting 40 billion dollars in food stamps and not extending unemployment benefits?
Where’s the songs taking down Bill O’Reilly? Sean Hannity? Rush Limbaugh who make a living off of demonizing and stereotyping Black folks day in and day out? Where’s the take down songs directed at Megyn Kelly the Fox news pundit who blew up the spot late last year by announcing Jesus and Santa are white? Where are the songs that go HAM about them? We need more songs that speak to our collective outrage about a system that is broke beyond repair and aggressively counter attack those who seeking to demoralize us.
And yes for the record I’m fully aware there are lots of artists who do speak truth to power, from Rebel Diaz to Immortal Technique to Yassin Bey to dead prez to Cihuatl Ce to Sa-Roc to Talib Kweli to Ras Ceylon to Killer Mike to David Banner to Boots Riley Alia Sharrief to Jasiri X to Toki Wright to Eseibio the Automatic to DLabrie to name a few. Their efforts should be supported and never discounted. Sadly they are not presented via mainstream outlets and in terms of pushing to get issues addressed we should all be thinking, advocating and noting what’s lacking in many of our circles during times like these.
If one wants to take this a step further, how about a few songs that challenge those in office and push for a changing of the guard? Many are upset with Florida’s State Attorney Angela Corey and her office who they feel did not give it their all both in this trial as well as the George Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin trial which they lost.
Many feel they were skittish in talking about race and that they went light on the defendants. In this particular case, Corey’s office never countered all the testimony claiming Dunn was a nice sensitive guy by showing the racist letters he wrote from prison in describing Jordan and his friends. Corey needs to be removed from office.
Back in the days, when Miami residents were dissatisfied with their local district attorney, Uncle Luke (Luther Campbell) of the 2 Live Crew, had one of his artists named Anquette do a song that help catapult someone into office who they felt would do a better job. That individual eventually went on to become the US Attorney General.. Her name was Janet Reno. An interesting side note, Reno’s opponent, Jack Thompson was so enraged about the song, that he led a campaign to get 2 Live Crew brought up on obscenity charges because of their racy music. That case made its way to the US Supreme Court where 2 Live Crew was vindicated. Luke in later years said he had no regrets putting out the Janet Reno song. He felt it was necessary.
Today I’m listening to that classic X-Clan joint ‘Day of Outrage‘ and remembering some pointed words put forth by the late Amiri Baraka when describing the purpose of Black Art “Poetry is not, as art form, separate from the violent struggles of the people; it is and must be a weapon in that struggle..
X-Clan Day of Outrage