Addressing a packed congregation at one of the city’s largest black churches, Senator Barack Obama on Sunday invoked his own absent father to deliver a sharp message to black men, saying “we need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just
end at conception.”
I have seen bloggers and conservative pundits everywhere try and minimize the significance of this statement. They shouldn't. This is a big deal and it is about time that a leader in the African American community drew attention to this epidemic. What should also be noted is that Bill Cosby has been saying this for several years now. Obama did NOT come to his defense when a large segment of the African American community tried to demonize him.
Furthermore, Cosby is not the only person in a position of influence to say this. Juan Williams has also been saying the same thing for years and spoke out critically against the phenomenon of absent fathers in his most recent book. Again, a large segment of the African American community also tried to demonize Williams, and again, Obama was nowhere to be found in defending him. Furthermore, both Williams and Cosby said what they said without the backdrop of a newly minted general election campaign in which such a statement would bring with it great political benefit. That said, the phenomenon of absentee fathers in the African American community is one that threatens the very fabric of our society. We simply cannot stand by while nearly 70% of African American children are born out of wedlock and not speak up. Thus, everyone should welcome each and every person in a position of power when they speak up against this scourge.
That said, if Barack Obama is going to really have his Sister Soulijah moment, then he must take it all the way. If he is going to address the systemic problems of the African American community, then he must also address the corrossive influence of rap music. In fact, it is the very children of absentee fathers that are most susceptible to its corrossive, violent, and terribly mysoginistic message.
Here, Barack Obama would really have a Sister Soulijah moment. That's because he would have to renounce some very high profile and tight relationships...
Rappers are gaga over Obama. The superstar Jay-Z, who raps about “b------,” “hoes” and “n-----,“ even urged voters to support Obama in a robo-call for the March 4 Ohio primary and caucus. The equally foul-mouthed rapper Will.I.am, whose hit songs include “I love my B----,” has hyped Obama in two widely-viewed videos posted on YouTube. The rappers have good reason to praise Obama. He has at times been an apologist for their “music.” His complicity with rappers dates back to at least 2006.
Late that year he met with the rap giant Ludacris in his Chicago office. Ludacris, who Pepsi dropped as a spokesman in 2004 after Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly exposed his putrid lyrics, said afterwards that Obama felt like family to him. In March 2007 Ludacris, whose hit songs include “Move B----,” headlined an Obama fundraiser in Atlanta.
Obama even recorded a voice over for a new album out this June from rapper Q-tip. Will it contain lyrics like these sonnets from another Q-tip song? “Close the door, ‘ight let a n---- rock. Cause we ‘bout to eat real s---, not s--- slop.”
So, if Barack Obama is to truly have a Sister Soulijah moment, and more importantly tackle the ills that infect the African American community, he is going to have to confront his friends in the rap community. If he is to truly have a Sister Soulijah moment that will have a worthwhile effect on the community at large, then he needs to call out his friends like Jay Z and Luidcris along with the plethora of nameless and abstract absentee fathers. Until we all recognize the corrossive effect of rap music on the community, all our efforts are nothing more than half measures.
We all hate drug dealers because they get wealthy by spreading cancerous poison throughout communities. Well, rappers aren't that much different. Their cancerous poisons are the words and ideas that they spread upon susceptible children that find them to be heroes. The African American community will continue to be stunted if their youth grows up thinking that violence, drugs, and mysoginy are the virtues of life. That's what rap music preaches and it is high time that Barack Obama says so.