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Cultural/Social

How Come Common Can’t Be Invited to the White House?

Yeah….by now, most of us reasonable people should be fully ignoring right-wingers, however, it’s difficult to do when they keep finding ways to make complete asses out of themselves by raising hell about nothing. Ok, we get it.  You don’t like the President and everything about him makes you cringe, even if his wife holds a poetry night at the White House. Enough already. Okay?

Supposedly, there’s some kind of short-sighted controversy about the rapper Common being at the White House because some of his lyrics were tinged with violence and, here’s the real deal, a blast about Bush. Now, I will admit that during middle and high school, I did fall asleep in American History a few times, but I do recall something in some really, really old document that allowed any American citizen to use their voice.  Furthermore, for those of us who actually own a Common album or two, we know that the rapper has a body of work that represents life as he sees it, whether poetically, consciously, grimy, and all else.  Honestly, the Obamas made a wise decision on choosing Common.  Hell, they could have invited Ye. Now, that would have been some real poetic justice.

Back in 2005, during the Hurricane Katrina travesty, KanYe West took it upon himself to dismiss those teleprompters he was supposed to read during the televised fundraiser and told the world that ‘George Bush doesn’t like Black people’. That’s more straight-forward of a diss than Common’s allusion to ‘burning a bush’.  In defense of Common, he ain’t did nothing to nobody (Ebonics intended) so why are they picking on him? Of course, it’s to discredit the President and to continue on their blind mission to show the world that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, no matter how well his track record is shaping up with a terrorist hit and checkmating Donald Trump in a game of verbal chess.

But, you know, this thing calls to mind something larger.  Historically, the scholarly (and general) consensus has been that Blacks do not have a culture, meaning that if our artistic productions have not been sanctioned by European standards, then it’s not valid.  How does this relate to Common and the White House?  Well, for one, he’s a rapper. I’m sure that many conservatives have never respected Hip Hop and it would be a fair bet that many of their children as well as grandchildren could probably spit every lyric in a Lil Wayne joint.  If they’re beefing about little old Common, then they would probably start a movement that would make that Birther mess pale in comparison if, by chance, Mrs. Obama invited Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Black Ice, or the Last Poets.

The bottom line is that much of Black artistic production is rooted in protest and struggle, so whatever piece of a lyric that they’re digging up on Common is simply reminiscent of when Black artists used their art to speak to and expose the issues of the community at large.  Common is, by no means, a straight up protest artist but rather a Chicago emcee that simply got invited to the White House by Michelle Obama for a poetry night.  That’s that on that.

The biggest problem here, in my opinion, is just how underexposed many White people are to Black folks and our stuff. Since the Obamas moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in early 2009, most White people have been inundated with more Blackness than they care to know. It must be so unnerving to have to accept the fact that the man at the helm of the country has rap music in his iPod and his wife has invited Jill Scott and Common over to their house for a nice evening of engaging in the fine art of poetic expression. These are artists that have been completely ignored by the larger White society as if they didn’t exist…..until now. All of a sudden, the move was to seek and find anything that they can use to feed their collective paranoia about the President and his wife,

To that end, let’s face it.  The First Lady could have invited the puppet Lamb Chop and Barney the Purple Dinosaur for a play date on the White House lawn and the right-wingers would have found something offensive about that because they are just determined not to like this man — and most importantly, color him (interesting choice of words, eh?) as unAmerican…..as if they really know anything about that at all.

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About Chandra Kamaria

Chandra Kamaria is a playwright, essayist, culture maven, educator, entrepreneur, and activist. To learn more, visit www.chandrakamaria.com.

Discussion

One thought on “How Come Common Can’t Be Invited to the White House?

  1. A fine post, Chandra. We would be a stronger America if we, as a collective culture, had the courage to draw more strength from the rich diverse experiences of the people who call this country home.

    Posted by William H. Johnson | May 12, 2011, 2:04 am

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