Anti-Intellectualism Pt 1
The January 29th Terrordome, Chuck D's montly column on Publicenemy.com, contains a scathing indictment of what conservative writer, John McWhorter, in his book, Losing The Race: Self Sabotage in Black America, would call anti-intellectualism. What's most interesting to me is that you have two men from widely differing political perspectives attacking the same problem. While there are probably elements of each person's stance that would not appeal to the other, I think there is real significance in the fact that they agree on a very substantial issue. Chuck points out, "Once upon a time smarter cats were heard and if you were to say something or do something dumb and stupid, cats would call you on it. If you were a ‘light in the ass’ little whatever, you wasn’t whipping anyone’s ass so you had to take it, and when you came back you would have to be, or at least appear to be, smarter to avoid the verbals." It's not that way any more. Now, it almost seems like we revel in being ignorant. I think Chris Rock said something like, "Niggas don't know nothin' and they don't wanna know nothin'." And yet, this is the way we choose to present ourselves in society. Not all of us, of course, but enough. Too many, in fact. I'm talking about cats in college; cats whose only association with the street life comes not from their childhood environment, but from active choices they make after they should know better. Guys who don't become "thugs" until they get to high school and sometimes later. That's a problem. It's like, I see this thug image and I feel like that's what I'm supposed to be so I play to it, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with who I, as an individual, am. I think that in a sense, the whole postmodern element of not having any objective standards has trickled down even to hip-hop and our generation. Back in the day, there was such a thing as a wack record, even if it sold. Artists actually took pride in the fact that they only went gold, meaning that their work was good enough to move units, but it was not so pop-accessible that everybody wanted a piece of it. It was about the Hip-Hop Nation exclusively. Nowadays, if you try to apply some type of standard, people will say that you're hating, as if that means they're not wack. Or more accurately, as if nothing is wack except records that don't sell. Please. Well, that same mentality has become prevalent in our actions. We see ignorant cats and won't step to them. And I'm not talking about somebody you don't know, because this is 2-04...jokers will blot you out for less than nothing. I'm talking about people we know. Those of us who have knowledge have a responsibility to share it with those who don't. I'm no 5 percenter, but I do think that the majority of people don't have a clue, or at least they are not cognizant of the influences on their actions. They may know it if you asked them about it, but they really don't think through what they do, they just respond to the situation. It is the job of the ones who have learned to analyze first and then move to teach those who have not learned. Gotta roll.