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Uncle Luke Critiques The Black Community: “We Are So Easily Influenced”

I know, I know. Former rapper Luther Campbell, the man who brought us such vulgar classics as “Me So Horny” and who, along with the other members of 2 Live Crew, once professed to be “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” isn’t exactly the staple of the community one would turn to in times of socio-political and economic strife for answers. But every now and then you have to separate the man from the message. Admittedly, I can’t say for sure if this is one of those times.

No stranger to the political system, 21 years ago a copyright suit involving one of 2 Live Crew’s tracks made its way all the way to the Supreme Court in what’s now considered a landmark infringement case. Nowadays, though, “Uncle Luke” is more concerned with political activism for the sake of engaging and uplifting that Black community, or so he says. In a two-part series with The Root, Campbell offered this insight on how African Americans can break some of the vicious cycles we’ve been repeating for decades.

“[B]lack people, basically, we just got to stop hating on each other. I mean we are a very separate and segregated race of people. We have so many issues within our race that we don’t want to admit. We don’t want to talk about our issues. We’re waiting for the white knight to come and save us.

“We are so easily influenced. We’re so [eager] to get on a ship because some white man told us to get on there. We’re still getting on those ships, the wrong ships, right now today. That’s what got us over here. Until the race comes together and stops being so segregated and stop hating on each other and start praising each other, then we will not see some major change. It’s hard. It’s hard-core. I don’t think I will see it happening in my lifetime. I wish.”

It was on this point that I was ready to argue that Campbell offered useful insight. Just the other day I was lamenting how Black people love to keep one another humble, as even when we witness the great success of one of our own, reminding people “where they came from,” so to speak, by way of dismissive taunts and divisiveness has become a social media sport of sorts, by and large. And though I wanted to argue we seem to have a certain susceptibility to valuing entertainment over education and flashiness over finances, I had to remember we’re in the land of capitalism, merely following the lead of the folks who wrote the book on the traps we fall prey too — and they would too had they not had the advantage of deciding the rules by which certain people get to play. That, Uncle Luke, is “what got us over here” not seeing a big shiny boat pop up on the Ivory coast and thinking, “ooh that looks fun, let’s hop on!”

It was at the point that Campbell regurgitated the stale if “we protest when a white man shoots a black person, then we need to be protesting every week, ’cause it’s more black-on-black shooting than anything” argument that I realized the former mayoral candidate wasn’t really saying anything at all.

While I do think it’s silly that we still somehow manage to consider light skin versus dark skin and natural versus relaxed debates worth keeping up in the face of things like, oh I don’t know, genocide at the hands of police. This idea that Black people don’t own up to their own mess simply isn’t factual. There have been numerous outcries about violence in our communities, particularly in Chicago, the thing is raising someone in a good home and the notion that “it takes a village” only gets you so far when that village can’t bring home the father that’s been in prison for decades due to the lack of drug-policy reform or help you get into college or even find a job that will put food on your table, clothes on your back, and gas in your tank all at the same damn time due to systemic discriminatory practices.

I’m a proponent of not getting caught in societal traps that now seem so obvious to me, but there’s also an overriding lack of compassion and understanding that, for some, selling drugs (or robbing a bank to pay for cancer treatment for your child) really does seem like a more viable option for sustaining life than trying the old American way of pulling one’s self up by their bootstraps or expecting assistance programs to actually provide assistance. Black people gladly expose our issues, the problem is some of the loudest voices tend to do so like the preacher in the pulpit condemning the lost souls in the crowd rather than standing beside one another and asking what each other’s issues are and how we can help overcome them on a grassroots level and then in society as a whole.

On the issue of segregation and lack of interpersonal praise, Campbell was right about us: We do sometimes lose the plot. But while there’s a need for a greater sense self-accountability in these areas, what can’t be forgotten when these wanna-be pundants choose to critique us is Black people could sing kumbaya and hold candlelight vigils every night in perfect African diaspora harmony and that still wouldn’t prevent us from being stopped and frisked and gunned down unarmed or shorten the unemployment line and give us greater access to health care. Until those burdensome realities are eliminated, or at least reduced, it’s going to be very hard to convince those among us who may not be going about things the best (or legal) way that there’s a better approach to living

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Comment by Ab Gai on September 4, 2015 at 10:35pm
I agree 99%!
Comment by Andrea Badd on September 4, 2015 at 4:33pm

said from the guy who vilifies women through his music.  

Comment by Keith E. on September 4, 2015 at 2:09pm
As a former business owner, Hair salon, I was doing extremely well on long island. Employed a lot of people and prided my self on having a very diverse clientele. After years of struggling to make it work I had succeeded. Our so I thought. When the recession hit I went from making a salary of $250k to how am I going to eat. As I look to rebuild myself I have found another side of the black American dilemma that was totally forgotten to me. I'm 56 yrs old and was raised to believe that hard work and persistence would payoff. The American Dream has turned into a nightmare. My parents had those Good Governor Jobs, factory work was everywhere do people could live, raise your family in safe communities etc.
It's gone is the easiest way to say it. The state of America now is not geared for our success. We're just fodder for others to pick out pockets and move on. We don't have the ability to raise our selves up without others opening up the door for us. It's sad that we have lost 2 generations to total immorality that is being used by the entertainment industry to benefit a few...
Without coordinated leadership we will cease to matter as a group. With sporadic individual success being the norm. These few will not be able to save the whole because there is a machine in place that tells them, if you help them we will destroy you....
Comment by Vinny Pat on September 4, 2015 at 11:03am
Agreed, already know. Where are the solutions? What are the websites to visit? What are the black businesses to support here and overseas, etc. it's easy to talk because now you can eat some steak instead of canned food but back it up with some action items.
Comment by BIIGMANN on September 4, 2015 at 8:24am
Comment by Benjamin Bennett, Jr. on September 3, 2015 at 11:00pm

He's correct.

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