Soundtrack: Public Enemy “Fear of a Black Planet”
Much has been made of the fact that Universal Pictures agreed to sponsor extra police presence at movie theaters that show the Straight Outta Compton movie which was released on August 14, 2015. There have been many complaints that the studio and/or the theaters are being racist by implying that Black audiences are more prone to violence, even in the face of recent movie shootings involving white shooters.
I have not heard anyone speak on what I believe is the proper context in which to view these moves by the Hollywood brass.
The 1% is afraid of Black people. Deathly afraid. The national security apparatus of this country has been preparing their defenses against the perceived military threat that is young Black America for over 25 years now. They believe that the next big military problem the United States faces is not Al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL, it is the relationship between Hip-Hop and street gangs and the potential for street gangs to evolve into paramilitary organizations capable of threatening national security. More specifically, they fear Hip Hop and rappers serving as a bridge between millions of angry inner city youth and a Black Nationalist/Anti-Establishment ideology which can unite that anger against the Establishment and their property.
This Straight Outta Compton movie lands into the public arena almost exactly one year after the murder of Mike Brown galvanized that inner city anger all over the country. August and September last year saw protests and rebellions happen simultaneously in dozens of cities around the country. The Establishment is lucky that so far only buildings and cars have burned. But they know that at any given moment, these peaceful and some not-so-peaceful protests can turn into Nat Turner.
This same narrative has been playing itself out on repeat since before the United States became a country. One of the most important but rarely mentioned aspects of United States style slavery was the constant fear that white people lived in regarding possible slave rebellions. They were keenly aware of the fact that they were usually outnumbered by the Africans and a great deal of their energy was spent on looking for and uncovering possible uprisings from the Africans. We hear the names of Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey mentioned during Black History month but we almost never hear about the hundreds of rebellions that never got off the ground or the thousands of Africans who ran away from captivity, refusing to live one more day as a slave.
That culture of white fear still permeates these United States. This is the explanation behind what we view as ridiculous exaggerations of use of force when their cops deal with us. Yesterday we all saw the viral video of 130 pound Wiz Khalifa being arrested and assaulted by five cops for riding a hoverboard in an airport. This whole past year of Black Lives Matter protests all over the country has seen cops showing up in full riot gear in military tanks to deal with peaceful and unarmed protesters. There are countless examples of white cops rolling up on a group of four Black teenagers just standing around and the cops treating them as if they are a criminal syndicate or a whole drug cartel. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. John Crawford. Tamir Rice. Mansur Ball-Bey. Walter Scott. All murdered in the past year because of the completely irrational fear of Blackness.
White folks see us with multiplying goggles on. In their minds, we are bigger, faster, stronger, and more numerous than we really are. It’s like they live their lives inside of a virtual reality video game in which we are the bad guys and we’re all 400 pounds of bloodthirsty villain.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, White America always acts out of their recognition that their world is fragile. You can never be comfortable when in possession of stolen property. You can’t fully relax and kick back with your feet up if you’re in someone else’s house. When Tea Party-types complain about wanting their “country back” it reveals a deep-seated fear because they know that the country really isn’t theirs and the Hands of Justice can take it away at any time.
The Establishment has seen the power of the energy behind the music and the message of N.W.A. When Los Angeles went up in flames in 1992, N.W.A. was the soundtrack. To repeat my earlier phrase, they are deathly afraid that this Straight Outta Compton movie could be the spark that ignites the powder keg of anti-Police and anti-Establishment fervor that his been growing all over this country in the past year.
We took offense, thinking that the filmmakers and movie theaters assumed that we were going to be violent with each other during or after seeing the movie. That’s not why they hired the extra security. They brought in extra cops for the same reason that Ferguson and Baltimore and New York City and others brought out “extra” cops for the protesters. They are afraid of us being violent with them.
The extra cops are really a sign of respect. They see in us what we don’t see in ourselves; the ability to overthrow their position and abolish their system. We ask them for better treatment because we think that we are weak and incapable of forcing them to do anything; they bring out the whole cavalry because they know better.
This country was built with our labor, with our blood, and with our brains. We paved the first roads and laid down the first railroad tracks and died first in their wars and invented the traffic signal and the light bulb and the safe for them to keep their stolen money in and designed the layout of their District of Columbia. When we figure out that we can literally take back what is ours then maybe some of the Establishment’s deepest fears will actually come to life.