In the Wake of Eddie Long-What’s the State of the Black Church? Is it too caught up to fight for justice?

There’s an old saying that goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Hence it should come as no surprise that since the sex scandal surrounding New Birth pastor Bishop Eddie Long has emerged, there’s a whole lot of questions being raised about the current state of the Black Church. ‘What’s wrong with it?’, ‘Why has it failed?‘Where is it headed?’ and of course ‘Will it survive this scandal’?

First of all we have to acknowledge that we’ve seen this movie before. These types of questions come on the heels of every scandal and controversy involving a church leader. It’s happening now with Eddie Long. It happened a couple of years ago when President Obama had his falling out with his long time pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We asked these questions when iconic figures like Jesse Jackson, Bishop Thomas Weeks III or even gospel singer BeBe Winans found themselves in hot water.

Should the troubles surrounding Bishop Eddie Long lead to all Black Churches coming under fire?

Are these questions fair? Should the misdeeds of one pastor or one church put the totality of Black churches on front street?

Ideally the accusations levied against Bishop Eddie Long should’ve been an aberration. There was a time when talk of a pastor, who is an outspoken ‘strong’ leader in the community seducing young men would’ve been seen as too far-fetched to entertain. But sadly in 2010 Long’s alleged actions aren’t shocking in far too many circles. They seem to fit an over-riding perception that egregious, sexually abusive contradictory behavior in the church is the norm. His actions fit the narrative of Black churches being over indulged in material wealth coupled with ego driven sermons where the pastors come across as prima donna rock stars. That’s disconcerting and should be a wake up call for anyone who sees themselves as part of the Black church.

Some of the controversies involving Reverend Jesse jackson has led to us questioning the state of the Black Church

It’s disconcerting because a whole lot of good work that goes on in the Black church gets overshadowed. This is not to say bad behavior should be ignored or glossed over, but at the same time when we have exposes like the one recently featured in the Atlanta Post that highlights 10 Black Church Leaders who’ve been involved with Scandals it’s easy to forget that in most of our communities the majority of Black churches work tirelessly to fulfil community needs.

There are numerous Black churches that for years have been doing things like; building homes for senior citizens, setting up food, shelter and clothing programs for the homeless, putting together after school programs for youth and tours through Historically Black colleges for young adults. Many Black churches have established well received prison ministries that include parole to work programs. We could go on and on listing examples of where Black churches have stepped up to walk the walk and back up the talk.

With all that being said,  those of us who are members of a church still have to grapple with the challenging questions before us; ‘Is there a disconnect between the Black church and its aforementioned good works and the community at large?’ ‘If so how and why is that happening?’ ‘What is fueling these nagging negative perceptions?’ ‘Is it because of biased media coverage or are these off-color actions more widespread than we care to admit?’ ‘Do we not have not enough church folks stepping up and letting their light shine so to speak?’  or Is the Black Church dead? as Princeton religious professor Eddie Glaude Jr brazenly declared in his controversial essay earlier this year.

How did we move from a place where the Black church was considered sacred and its leaders highly respected  to a place where it’s routinely lampooned in the mainstream with the Black preacher often depicted as buffoonish ‘Reverend Porkchop’ type caricatures?

Members of the Black Church Have to Let their Light Shine in the Midst of Scandals

When looking at these types of challenges facing pastors like Eddie Long there are several things to keep in mind. To start, his transgressions are going to result in a number of people saying things like; ‘This is why I don’t go to church’, ‘So-called Christianity is a farce’ , There’s a thin line between pimping and preaching and what we saw go down with Eddie Long was pimping’, orthe Church has been an opium for Black people in this country that stirs us away from who we really are’. In short, left unchallenged and uncorrected the Black Church becomes an empty space and place  that turns people away instead of being an inviting place for those who seek healing and solace.

Second, such commentary should inspire us to step forth and take corrective action and show compassion for those victimized and for those in trouble. It should inspire us to do some serious self examination. This should be the case if you’re a member of a congregation and it should be the case for the entire body. Self examination should be a constant endeavor.

One should always be checking to see if one’s actions are aligned with the teachings in the Gospel. Are we Christ-like in our day-to-day behavior? How are we growing in Christ? If Jesus was to show up next week would he be pleased with the things we are doing? Those should be the driving questions of the day.

The proverbial question of ‘What would Jesus do?‘ should be more than just rhetoric for those of us who believe. Many of us look at Christ and see him as the ultimate personification of love. If so, how is love being manifested in our day-to-day lives? How are we showing love for family, friends and ourselves? How do we show love for our community? How are we growing in love?  Do we even have a full understanding of all the definitions of love from Eros to agape to Xenia?

What would Jesus do? This saying has to be more than rhetorical?

As Christians the goal should be for us to strengthen our spiritual relationship with Christ which comes from fellowship, prayer and constant ‘wrestling’ and studying of the word. We need to take these steps and ask those hard questions whether we have an Eddie Long scandal in our midst or not.

Lastly, we as a members of a church whether it’s a 25 thousand mega-church like New Birth or a church by the side of the road in the rural south with 15 people, should be asking how we are serving our community?

If we come from a tradition where feeding the poor and looking after the down trodden is a guiding tenet, how is our respective church fulfilling this mission? What role are we playing in seeing this happens? Do we volunteer to take those bold and much-needed steps or are we waiting on someone else to do it?  Serving our community is a form of love, it’s an everyday thing and its a way in which we serve God.

Being aligned with Christ does not mean playing ‘holier than thou’ games where your beating folks upside the head with a book demanding they see it your way or burn in hell. Nor does it mean pretending to be this flawless person who can do no wrong and showing little compassion for those who are trying to find their way. We’re supposed to be humble and not carry ourselves in such a way that people are hoping for our downfall but instead cheering for our upliftment.

Was It a Wrong Turn to Go from the Prophetic to Prosperity?

When talking with folks about the ‘State of the Black Church‘, many like to point to the hey-days of the Civil Rights Movement and note that the Black church was at its full glory. It was powerful, on point and gave birth to stellar leadership that was rooted in the Black prophetic tradition. Many were praised for fearlessly speaking truth to power and riding hard for social justice causes. As a result the Black church was deemed by many to be the ‘conscience of America‘. It’s leadership was best personified by preachers like Benjamin MaysRalph David AbernathyWyatt Tee Walker, Fred ShuttlesworthGardner C. Taylor and of course Dr Martin Luther King. The Black Church was one of the few, preeminent institutions in the community that we controlled from top to bottom. It was the place where folks gathered, strategized, sought refuge, and drew inspiration for the arduous fights against Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan and other forces of white oppression.

Church Leaders Like Fred Shuttesworth pushed forward even in the face of brutal attacks and killings

The Black church was seen as a ‘threat’ to many who opposed the upliftment of Black people. This resulted in quite a few churches being burned and its members attacked.

The KKK while espousing Christian values would eventually come to bomb a Black church. Most of us are aware of the tragic situation that took place at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham , Alabama in 1963. Here 4 young girls were killed.

For those who don’t know  16th Street Baptist church was a key meeting place for Black leaders including Dr King and Pastor Fred Shuttlesworth. As horrific as the bombing was the strength of the Black church shined through. Instead of slinking back, the Black Church leaders stepped up their efforts  with renewed vigor and determination. Folks became more outspoken in their demands for justice.

Today many feel those days are gone. They look at the rise of mega-Churches, TV evangelists and a marked political shift in many pews to the conservative right with the prophetic social justice, liberation theology teachings taking a backseat to what we now call Prosperity Theology . Here Jesus has been transformed from one who prioritized the poor and downtrodden to someone who now is only about the business of  providing material wealth for those he favors.

Initially championed by preachers like Oral Roberts around the time of World War II,  we later saw a few vestiges of this prosperity thinking during the Civil Rights era. One keen example was Reverend Ike who was outspoken in his opposition to Dr King especially when he started working on the Poor People’s Campaign. He claimed King was doing Black folks a disservice by associating ‘poor’ with Blackness.

The prosperity themes really hit full stride and grew in popularity throughout the 90s with iconic church figures like embattled Bishop Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes and Joel Osteen who even though is white has enjoyed a large African-American following.

is jesus Really about the business of us being rich at the expense of the poor?

The fact that Jesus is depicted as one who emphasizes financially rewarding those he favors makes the prosperity teachings seem not to far removed from the God and Country, American Exceptionalism ideology expressed by  far right evangelicals.

Such thinking has been best exemplified by preachers like Pat Robertson and his Christian Coalition, the late Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority and in books like the recently published American Patriot’s Bible.

Was this turn to prosperity theology a natural evolution for the church because Jesus was directing folks or was the prosperity teachings a reflection of the current state of affairs both in the African-American community and the larger mainstream society? After all, we are in a day and time where we celebrate opulence and literally worship those who have it.

This was a point author and Spelman college history professor Jelani Cobb made during a recent radio interview where he noted that our desire for obscene riches is reflected in our music, our literature and the way we conduct business. Should we be surprised that its reflected in our churches?

When looking at this switch from the prophetic to prosperity, we should not be dismissive of the deliberate pushes made by sinister outside forces? I’m talking specifically about Cointel-Pro-The Counter Insurgency programs championed by then FBI director J Edgar Hoover.

If the Black church was a major cornerstone for the Civil Rights movements in the 60s would it be safe to assume that was infiltrated, compromised, discredited and ultimately redirected or destroyed via Cointel-Pro operations?

FBI director J Edgar Hoover made it pretty clear that organizations like the  Black Panthers, Black Muslims, SNCC, Free Speech and the Anti-War Movements were domestic threats that needed to be contained. We now know through the Freedom of Information Act that Martin Luther King was constantly under surveillance. Hoover’s men went out of their way to employ physiological games including issuing death threats, planting false stories in the media and attempting to play him off other leaders with the intent of causing divisions and tensions with other Civil Rights organizations. At one point FBI agents even tried to get King to take his own life.

It’s hard to imagine that the FBI did not look at the influence of the Black church and try to find ways to cause divisions, soften its impact and ultimately redirect its energies. Malcolm X in his speech ‘Message to the Grassroots talks about how Black  leadership was compromised with money and resources on the days leading up to the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech‘.

Reverend Dr Martin Luther King came from a long line of Black preachers who represented Prophetic Teachings

Many saw Malcolm X’s remarks as what best articulated the violence vs non-violence debates at the time. Others said Malcolm was simply hating on King, but years later when King gave his famous ‘Why I oppose the Vietnam war‘ speech on Aril 30 1967 at Riverside Church in Harlem, he got to really experience hate. Many church leaders at that time stepped away and shunned him. Some feared cuts in their funding and compromised. King points this out in his speech ‘Transforming a Neighborhood into a Brotherhood

“There are those who have said to me, ‘Why are you taking a stand against the war? You’re a civil-rights leader. You shouldn’t be on this. You’re out of your field.’

Long before I was a civil-rights speaker, I was a preacher of the Gospel. When I was ordained to the Christian ministry … I took a commission to bring the insights of our Christian heritage to bear on the evils of our day.

He goes on to add

“There are those who go on to say beyond that, ‘Aren’t you going to hurt your leadership?’ Somebody said to me not long ago, “People have respected you, and don’t you feel you’re going to lose that and, in order to maintain that respect, don’t you think you’ll have to start talking more in terms of the policy of our nation in Vietnam?’

“I looked into his eyes and said, ‘Sir, I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m not a consensus leader. I don’t determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I don’t determine what is wrong by roaming around taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion.’ …

It was said that after King gave these types of speeches it soured his relationship with then President Lyndon B Johnson who helped usher in important Civil Rights legislation with King at his side. King eventually was cut off and lost access to the White House while being roundly criticized by other leaders who became comfortable with tasting power.

Creflo Dollar represent the new breed of Conservative thinking Prosperity Gospel Preachers within the Black Church

Now contrast King’s willingness to stand up to the Vietnam War and sacrifice his friendship with President Johnson and Black Mega-Church Evangelist Creflo Dollar who reprimanded his congregation for speaking out against George Bush and his call for war.

He demanded that people repent for their criticisms. Professor/ commentator Marc Lamont Hill pointed this out in a October 2006 column title the ‘New Black Church Strikes Again‘ where he shows how he links’ blind patriotism to Christian duty’.Hill points out the letter..

When a nation is on the brink of war, the worst thing its citizens can do is allow themselves to become divided. The Bible says that there is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). In fact, Jesus said that in the last days there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6). When this country was attacked on September 11, 2001, there was a fierce public outcry. America wanted her enemies to pay. Now, two years later, those same Americans are protesting the war against terrorism.

President Bush is worthy of your prayers and support. He is a man who rises early every morning to seek God and His wisdom through prayer and the study of the Word. This is not the time for Christians to picket, carry protest signs or throw their opinions around. The election is over, and the man in the Oval Office is the one we, as Americans, voted in. Numbers 32:7-13 makes it clear how God feels about a nation divided during a time of war.

This country needs unity, and it begins with the church. It is your responsibility as a believer to pray for the president, others in leadership, this nation, the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and our enemies–whoever they may be. Forget about your political affiliation or preference. You are first and foremost a Christian.

Dr Cornel West said there's been alot of manipulation and distortion of Christ and his teachings within prosperity circles

As was mentioned earlier what has taken place over the years is a manipulation and distortion of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Professor Dr Cornel West noted in a recent interview “There’s been a whole lot of creativity and imagining to move Christ from helping the poor to being a wealthy individual who embraces greed and dislike people who are different..’

We don’t really know Christ and his basic teachings anymore because he’s been so distorted. Along with this manipulation comes an unwillingness by many to be empathetic toward people who are suffering and in pain.

West concluded now more than ever we have to step up and keep justice on our hearts and minds. The key word here is JUSTICE. This is especially true for those who profess to be Christians. If we don’t speak up who will?

We all know the famous quotes in Matthews where Jesus said its easier to pass through the eye of a camel than for a rich man to get into heaven.  Was he saying folks should be destitute and not have money?  Hardly.

Jesus was letting folks know that its easy to get caught up when you have riches. It’s easy to forget some basic things that he was teaching and believe your own hype. It’s easy to have money  become your master.

Can we let our material possessions go?  I means its hard times right now…so would we let our things go if asked by Jesus?  Can we let the money, fame and power go and be without?  Is this what happened to Bishop Eddie Long? Have we been getting to caught up?   Is this whats been happening in many of our churches? Is this a condition we’re struggling with?

The answer to those questions will require some serious reflection and thought. Our society makes it easy for us to move away off our square or foundation. Lets not get too caught up when we have mouths to feed and hearts to heel.

Something to ponder

Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

My Take on Drake-Have All of Us Reached Our Potential? (A Response to Marc Lamont Hill’s Article)

Do we hate Drake? My boy Professor Marc Lamont Hill does and he explains why in a recently penned article featured on Here, I can understand many of Hill’s sentiments including; Drake being talented but overhyped, him being used as a slick marketing tool for a corporate backed music industry which I should add, is in rapid decline and him taking up precious space in the urban sound scape to the exclusion of ‘more talented’ emcees. But, with all that being said, I think Hill misses a couple of fundamental points about Hip Hop.

First, and foremost, Hip Hop, in particular the art of emceeing, at the end of the day is a form of communication where the only questions that matters are;  ‘Do you connect with your audience’ and ‘Did you move the crowd’. Drake has clearly done this-like it or not. We shouldn’t begrudge him.

Now, we can argue and assert Drake is lacking in rhyme skillz or he’s not that good of a singer. We can as Hill did, equate him to being a one man ‘boy band’. We can say all that and any number of negative things, but last I checked there’s a significant number of people residing in our respective hoods all across the country who are checking for this cat. They view him differently. Everywhere I go I’m hearing folks bump his music. I’m seeing his shows sell out and in general I’m seeing him generate a type of excitement that I haven’t seen in a very long time. In 2010 Drake is ‘that guy‘.

As far as Drake’s fans are concerned his rhymes and singing are just fine. His audience finds him compelling, entertaining, inspiring and more importantly relevant. The question before us all is ‘Are we relevant?‘ Are we relevant to Drake’s audience? And if not why not? and should we be? And if we wanna connect what’s it gonna take to be so?

This brings me to my second point…Hip Hop is not a spectator sport. If someone feels Drake is undeserving of his audience and he’s taking up valuable space and is a big waste of time, from a Hip Hop perspective there’s only one thing you can really do..step into the arena, show & prove’ and win that audience back.

Rick Rock-Create paint where there ain't

Now, one may make the excuse about how that’s hard to do because Drake has celebrity endorsements, a million dollar marketing budget and the full weight of the industry pushing him. But this is Hip Hop and we have long prided ourselves as being able to do far more with less. In this space, no obstacle is insurmountable. This a culture that has creativity, resourcefulness and hustling as key building blocks. To quote producer Rick Rock..we create paint where there ain’t or to quote Shock G of Digital Underground, we can make a dollar out of 15 Cent or as they say in church. ‘We can make a way out of no way’.  So in 2010 if we’re finding ourselves battling the commodification of culture, and the dumbing down of audiences with artists and culture being made disposable, we who identify with Hip Hop should be able to effectively battle back and counter this.  Hence anyone who feels Drake is misleading his crowd, in this age of technology where Youtube, Ipads, blogs and twitter are abundant engaging  Drake’s audience should  not be difficult. Winning them over? Well, that’s the hard part.

The bottom line is this.. If Drake is lazy, as Professor Hill pointed out, and not living up to the full potential of his talents as an artist, can the same be said about us? Are we equally as lazy and not reaching our full potential as members of the Hip Hop community? We’re demanding that artist like Drake step up, but collectively speaking what are we doing to be meaningful game changers?

This culture has been around damn near 40 years and with all our entrepreneurial brilliance, insightful punditry, academic scholarship, street savvy and swagger, we still have not created a music business infrastructure that is far superior and eclipses the corporate backed one that has made a superstar out of Drake but at the same time has ruined and exploited a music and culture we hold dear. Where’s our superstar making machine? Why haven’t we created our own industry where artist like; Black Thought, Jean Grae and Lupe Fiasco are everyday un-compromised and un-apologetic occurrences?

After 40 years are we looking for jobs in this industry or creating our own? And when I say create..I mean creating business that are not mere extensions dependent upon a corrosive industry. Are we about the business of creating something that is on our own terms, owned by us and is on par with the potential heights we want artists like Drake to reach?

Finally let’s get to the crux of this issue…If artists like, Pharaoh Monche or Lupe Fiasco who Hill mentions in his piece were the primary ‘go to’ figures that everyone in the hood was clamoring over, then any sort of discussion around Drake would be irrelevant. The concern is this-Drake is getting shine in the community, leaving many to wonder why those who are arguably more skilled and have ‘deeper meanings’ to their songs are not. How is there this disconnect and what do we do to fix it?

Is it as simple as extra airplay? Does it come down to extra marketing dollars?  Does this boil down to us exposing Drake’s audience to what some consider ‘better caliber’ artists in hopes that they will suddenly see the light and find the Drakes of the world  less desireable?

Who’s to say that the Drake fan is not already well aware of the Talibs, Mos Defs, Dead Prezs and other conscious artists? Perhaps they know them but at the end of the day they simply prefer Drake. That’s a nagging reality many of us are not ready to face because we’re left either wondering how we’re out of step with large portions of the  community we speak and rep for.. and more importantly we’re left questioning our influence or lack thereof.  Or we can sum it up and face the fact that we may haven’t reached our full potential at least in the arena of communicating.

That can be a blow to our egos and toss a monkey wrench into our assumptions and expectations..It has to be bothersome when you’re an elder in the community who teaches, counsels or offer leadership and guidance to younger folks, only to find at the end of the day they are pretty much rejecting our musical offerings.  It’s hard not to question what that says about us or to not take it personal when those you help rear let you know ‘they ain’t feeling Public Enemy, Wu or even 2pac.

Wacka Flocka

I recall when I was younger, my mom and older cousins would tell me..’Live long enough and I’ll come to see what they were talking about... Many of us are at that moment in our lives. When I see younger cousins emphatically embracing Gucci Mane and Wacka Flocka and I know they were raised on a steady diet of KRS, PRT and X-Clan, I can now better understand why my elders were so upset when they saw us choosing turntables over ‘musical instruments.

Now I understand why they were perplexed when we said we preferred Grandmaster Flash or Afrika Bambaataa over Earth Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang and even Marvin Gaye. Many of us as youngsters simply did not see the relevance as to why those who were older held these artists as sacred. To them our rejections were blasphemous. We essentially were dismissing the sound track to their lives and  not building upon a cultural legacy they were a part of and may have even helped lay down.

From our stand point as youngstas, we discovered something that spoke to us and had meaning and were seeking to build our own legacy. When I was younger I didn’t analyze things, this way, but as I got older I’ve come to realize, that there was too much preaching and not enough teaching. The more our elders preached that this ‘Hip Hop’ thing we were into was huge step backwards the more we stuck with it. Perhaps they should’ve sat down and built with us. Perhaps they should’ve  helped nurture our curiosity and passion.  We made lots of mistakes along the way that could’ve been avoided had we had the nurturing, but eventually we come to discover our own worth and brilliance and a perhaps a few of the lessons they were trying to impart on us.

I guess the question at hand that I’m gonna keep coming back to is have we ever reached our full potential? Not just Drake , but all of us.. Have we all come realize and act upon our brilliance? These  humbling questions to answer because on many levels we may sadly discover to the degree that we find Drake to be mediorcre and lacking or brilliant and great, it may in fact be an accurate reflection of who we are as a Hip Hop community. Drake will change when we do. It’s either that or accept the fact we simply can’t see what they can see..

-Something to ponder-

-Davey D-

I hate Drake. There, I said it.

by Marc Lamont Hill

Dr Marc Lamont Hill

For the past two years, Drake has been one of the hottest acts in hip-hop. From high profile guest appearances to a ubiquitous presence on urban radio, it is nearly impossible to follow hip-hop and not get regular doses of the Toronto-born rapper.

I hate him.

There I said it.

To be clear, I don’t have any personal beef with Drake. While I’ve never met him, I don’t doubt that he’s a decent and well-intentioned person. Still, I hate him. And you can’t stop me. Why? Because he represents several things that I find troublesome about the current mainstream hip-hop scene.

First, there’s the music. While there’s no doubt that Drake is very gifted— even if he too often wastes his talent making radio-friendly confection—he leaves much to be desired as an rapper. Instead of relying on his intellectual and artistic gifts, he too often resorts to tired concepts, lazy punch lines and predictable one-liners. This wouldn’t be such a problem if he weren’t constantly being hailed by the rap world as a dope lyricist rather than what he actually is: a pop song writer.

To call Drake an MC in a world that still includes Black Thought, Lupe Fiasco, Jean Grae, Pharoah Monch, or even Eminem is an insult to people who think. As evidenced by his humiliating Blackberry “freestyle” on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 radio show, Drake has mastered neither the art, science, nor stylistic etiquette of MCing. From his frantic attempts to stay on beat to his inability to improvise even slightly, Drake represents a dangerous historical moment in hip-hop culture where rapping has overshadowed other dimensions of MCing, like freestyling, battling, and moving the crowd.

In addition to his lyrical deficiencies, there is something naggingly inauthentic about Drake. And nope, it’s not because he’s a half-white Canadian named Aubrey whose original claim to fame was playing Jimmy Brooks on the teen drama Degrassi High. While such information does nothing to enhance his street bona fides, it certainly doesn’t merit missing him outright. After all, some of hip-hop’s greatest talents (whether they admit it or not) have come from a variety of privileged race, class, and geographic backgrounds. Also, despite being a running buddy of Lil Wayne, Drake’s raps don’t include drug dealing, poverty, violence, or any of the other stale tropes of ghetto authenticity found in mainstream hip-hop narratives. Still, his persona and music feel like the product of industry cynicism rather than an organic outgrowth of hip-hop culture.

From his faux-Southern accent to his corporate-funded “street buzz,” Drake has been perfectly prepped to become hip-hop’s version of a boy band. Take one look at Drake and you can almost hear the calculations of greedy record execs looking for the next crossover act: Preexisting white fanbase: check. Exotic Ethnic Background: check. Light Skin: check. Celebrity Cosigners: check.

And the list goes on… Sadly, such paint-by-the-numbers thinking not only forces Drake into the public sphere, but also excludes more gifted artists who don’t fit neatly into the prefigured boxes of industry honchos.

While the aforementioned reasons are sufficient to warrant my Drake hate, my biggest issue stems from his decision to sign with Universal Motown in June 2009. At the point that Drake signed the deal, he had already become one of the hottest rappers in the country. In addition to high visibility, Drake already had an independently functioning infrastructure around him for full-fledged marketing, promotion, and distribution of future projects. In other words, as DJ Skee pointed out “Drake had already successfully done everything a major label could by himself.”

Instead of seizing the moment, Drake, in a move that violated the adventurous entrepreneurial spirit of hip-hop, played it safe and went with a traditional deal. Unlike artists of lesser stature, Drake had an opportunity to thumb his nose at a record industry built on the unmitigated exploitation of artists. By running back to the plantation, Drake squandered a critical opportunity to not only build his own empire, but to create new possibilities for an entire generation of artists.

Am I being too hard on Drake? Am I holding him to too high a standard? Am I ignoring the fact that there have been “Drakes” in every generation? Am I a grouchy hip-hop oldschooler still mad that A Tribe Called Quest broke up and Rakim no longer gets radio play? The answer is probably “yes” on all fronts. Still, I maintain my position, as well as my right to hate Drake. And you can’t stop me.

Whew! I feel better now. How about you?

Marc Lamont Hill is Associate Professor of Education at Columbia University. He blogs regularly at He can be reached at

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Rallies Planned in 18 Cities Demanding CNN Drop Lou Dobbs as they Premier Latinos in America


DaveyD-leather-225I recently heard some grumblings from some who are suddenly feeling protective of  CNN pundit Lou Dobbs as they fell back on the free speech argument.

The basic gist of the argument is as follows; “Lou Dobbs has a right to his opinion and what is taking place by Latino organizations rallying and demanding he be dropped is censorship”.

Noting could be further from the truth. Lou Dobbs does in deed have a right to his opinion, but not when it comes to spreading lies and half truths to millions on the airwaves and people can’t rebut. It’s interesting to hear people crying in defense of Lou Dobbs , while those very same people and forces have remained astonishingly silent when former CNN host Glenn Beck led a witch hunt against Green for All activist Van Jones.

Jone’s ‘free speech was called into question from the bully pulpit of the corporate airwaves resulting in Jones resigning from his post at the White House. many feel like he was forced out.  Beck has since gone on to continue his witch hunt for people he personally feels have uttered the wrong ideological opinions past and present.
All it took was a couple of articles and a well placed letter from the widow of the cop who was killed and Hill was fired. News of his dismissal came to Hill via news media. He was never called and personally informed until after the fact. It didn’t matter that Hill had a right to his opinion or that Mumia has always maintained his innocence and millions around the world believe and support him. None of that ‘free speech mattered’.

Former Fox News pundit Dr Marc Lamont Hill

Former Fox News pundit Dr Marc Lamont Hill

It was just last week that media pundits launched a campaign to ulster popular media analyst Marc Lamont Hill who is one of the few progressive voices that regularly appeared on Fox News. The two ultra-conservative pundits took issue with Hill’s support of Mumia Abu Jamal who sits on death row and Assata Shakur who escaped the law and is exiled in Cuba. These pundits went to a Fox shareholders meeting confronted News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch and demanded that he get rid of an employee who they felt was out of bounds for supporting a convicted ‘cop killer’.

How this connects to CNN even though these recent happenings occurred on rival Fox, is that as a news media outlets it hasn’t used its bully pulpit to demand that such distortions and McCarthy era tactics cease. It remained silent or  in this instance has participated via Lou Dobbs whose insidious rhetoric  has helped foster a climate that has led to a spike in hate crimes. With that in mind, there should be absolutely no objections to groups demanding Dobbs be dropped. The fact that Latinos groups have to hold rallies in 18 cities, get petitions and go through all sorts of hoops versus a couple of media pundits pushing their strongly felt opinions on the airwaves is a clear indication just how imblanced things are..

-something to ponder-

Davey D

CNN-ClearlyNotnewsToday CNN premiers ‘Latino in America’ Premiere, Nation-Wide Rallies Planned to Demand CNN to Dump Lou Dobbs!

 You can join the efforts! Scroll down for a list of cities and make sure you download your signs!!!

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Community leaders, politicians and faith groups in 18 of the top U.S. Latino media markets are set to rally together in local protest events on Wednesday, October 21stin an effort to increase the pressure on CNN to remove Lou Dobbs from its programming. Calling CNN hypocritical for airing “Latino in America,” an advertising-driven special on Latinos, while at the same time hosting the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Lou Dobbs, the events are part of our campaign, a coalition of Latino organizations from across the country that is led by online advocacy group

CNN-canthaveitbothways“Our message to CNN is clear: You cannot have it both ways. It’s either promotion of hatred by Lou Dobbs or real news regarding the Latino community,” said Isabel Garcia, a prominent civil and human rights attorney in Arizona who is highlighted in the “Latino in America” series and who is also participating in the effort.

“Lou Dobbs abuses the CNN platform to dehumanize and spread fear about Latinos and immigrants. It is no surprise that hard-working Latinos in this country are increasingly victims of hate-motivated violence,” added Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles(CHIRLA). “CNN must be accountable to one of the largest minority groups in the United States if it seeks to gain their following and respect”.

CNN-profitsfromhateOn Wednesday, press conferences and public actions threat of Lou Dobbs on CNN are planned these locations!

12 PM NOON @ National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

10 AM @ CNN Building Downtown
190 Marietta St. Atlanta, GA 30303

11 AM @ Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St. Boston, MA 02133

12 PM NOON @ Casa Michoacan
1638 S. Blue Island Ave. Chicago, IL 60608

12 PM NOON @ Colorado State Capital
200 E Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80203

12 PM NOON @NCCE Lenoir County Center
1791 Hwy 11/55, Kinston, NC 28504

11:30 AM @Houston City Council
900 Bagby St. Houston, TX 77002

5 PM @ Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional
740 N. Eastern Ave.- Suite 110, Las Vegas, NV 89101

10 AM @ Carecen
2845 West 7th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005

12 PM NOON @ Center for Immigrant Orientation
2610 SW 8th St. Miami, FL 33135

4 PM @ CNN Building Downtown
10 Columbus Cir. New York, NY 10023

12 PM NOON @ 802 N. 7th St. Phoenix, AZ 85004

12 PM NOON @ Cesar Chavez Plaza Park
J St & 10th St, Sacramento CA 95814

12 PM NOON @ Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
922 San Pedro, San Antonio, TX 78212

12 PM NOON @ Offices of American Friends Service Committee
3275 Market St, San Diego, CA 92102

12 PM NOON @ Sun Rise Restaurant
3126 24th St. San Francisco, CA 94110

12 PM NOON @ El Tiradito in Old Barrio
on South Main St. between W. Cushing St. & W. Simpson St. Downtown Tucson, AZ 85701


CNN’s ramping it’s ‘Latino in America,’ but it’s getting ruined by Lou Dobbs


In a few days CNN will launch its ambitious “Latino in America” series. Hosted by the popular Soledad O’Brien, the heavily promoted four-hour program will air on Oct. 21 and 22.

“Witness the evolution of a country as Latinos change America, and in return, America changes Latinos,” is how CNN entices potential viewers on its Web site. The series is a serious effort to capture a larger share of the Hispanic market – and according to some who have seen it, a worthy one.

Ironically, the series comes at a time when CNN has a huge trust problem with Latinos – and its name is Lou Dobbs.

Dobbs, some say, has thrown ethics overboard and has made a career out of vilifying immigrants.

“The truth is that CNN already airs a nightly program on Latinos in America. It’s called ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight‘, and for 260 hours a year CNN provides air time for anti-immigrant distortions and anti-Latino propaganda,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a national pro-immigration reform group.

America’s Voice, along with Media Matters, and, have called on CNN to dump Dobbs.

“They (CNN) think that a few hours of serious reporting on Latinos by sunny Soledad O’Brien can make up for thousands of hours of anti-Latino extremism from the dark Lou Dobbs,” said Roberto Lovato, of and a leader of the movement to dismiss Dobbs.

Through the Web site,, over 70,000 people have signed a petition demanding CNN President Jon Klein fire Dobbs. It reads, in part: “As President of CNN, it is imperative that you act quickly and decisively to drop Dobbs from your network, and send the message that CNN does not tolerate hate speech. There should be no place for the likes of Dobbs on the ‘most trusted name in news.’ “

Hate speech has created a hostile environment for Latinos in America resulting in violence and death. The FBI says that from 2003 to 2006, hate crimes against Latinos increased 40%.

Visitors to the can watch the eye-opening video, “CNN: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America?” They can also find some of Dobbs’ most outrageously false claims, such as the 7,000 cases of leprosy caused by Latino immigrants..

Dobbs has also claimed that “Just about a third of our prison system is made up of illegal aliens.”

But the Department of Justice reports that immigrants (legal and illegal) make just 6% of the prison population. is committed to set the record straight.

“For us, ‘Latino in America’ is a teachable moment that we will use to raise awareness about how Dobbs spreads lies about immigrants in his program and opens it to the most dangerous hate groups in the U.S.,” Lovato said. “It is also about raising awareness that by watching CNN, Latinos are disrespecting ourselves.”

America’s Voice and Media Matters planned to run an ad targeting Dobbs during the broadcast of Latino in America, but CNN refused to air it.

America’s Voice says it plans to run the ad on a competing network.

Angelo Falcón, executive director of the National Institute for Latino Policy in New York, points out that Dobbs’ problem (and CNN’s) is “he doesn’t understand the widespread antipathy to him and his race-baiting that exists throughout the Latino community, on its left, right and middle.”

The question CNN must answer is a clear one, Lovato said: “What is it going to be: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America?”

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