“…we made it in America. Sweet baby Jesus, oh sweet baby Jesus.” Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Made in America,” Watch The Throne, 2011

ORDER. Happy Wednesday. This is Joshua and I’m two weeks away from my Throne Watching Experience and two weeks away from the end of my first semester of law school.  God is good. Dr. Joyce posted on her FB wall lastnight the following comment: “Jay-Z and Kanye perform “Niggas in Paris” on the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Hmmm. Has hip-hop made it in America or is hip-hop gettin’ played in America?” Lately, I’ve been playing “Made in America,” as I polish up my outlines in preparation for my finals next week, and it got me thinking about this notion of making it in America.  Lyndon B. Johnson once stated that, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact. “ I think, we should change the emancipation part to read that until all of those things are corrected we have not made it in America.  In The Throne’s “Made in America,” they throw an ode to predecessors like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, and proclaim to have made it in America.  But the song takes a turn when Jay-Z alludes to his drug hustling background.  Is this what it means to make it in America or is it just a proclamation?  Is that what Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Betty Shabazz had in mind?  Yeah, I know the reference is an extended metaphor; but really, what does it mean to make it in America? What does the song’s sequencing right after “Murder to Excellence” say about the Throne’s beliefs on this topic?   Sure, Jay-Z and Kanye, may have made it materially, but aren’t we going to need a million more?  Is hip-hop culture in general making it in America?

I think not.  Today it is more statistically likely that African-American males will spend time in jail and prisons than graduate from college. In some areas of the country, numbers show that it is more expected for an African-American male to be an inmate than a high school graduate. See this link here that argues there are more black men in jail, prison, on parole, or on probation than there were in 1850 BEFORE the Emancipation Proclamation.  Students who grow up in rural areas or in inner-cities typically have to deal with classrooms of students with over 25 students assigned to one class.  This does not allow for special attention to be provided to those students who need it.  These students end up getting left behind and then become the working class poor, with their “American dreams” deferred.  Recently, in an interview with CBS, former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice stated that in her opinion, the disparities in public education is the biggest problem facing our nation today due to the possibility that it may lead eventually to class warfare.

The DDR: So  the question becomes what is there to do about all of the dreams deferred? Does hip-hop culture have a responsibility in effecting this change that needs to happen in order to emancipate the young African-American males, the working-class poor, the dreamers, or the hustlers?  What role do we, as socially conscious beings, play in this emancipation?  How can we begin effecting change at a small level, or at a large level?  I mean we can’t just sit at our computer’s, shaking our heads.  It’s like Lupe Fiasco said, “just listening to ‘Pac ain’t gone make it stop.”

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