An Honest Conversation About Race (Through Hip-Hop) Introduction & Part One: Black on Black Violence


The activity of trying to measure, explain, and reduce the differences between black and white Americans did not begin when the latter started watching The Cosby Show and The Jeffersons on TV every evening—it actually began when Cotton Watts had them cracking up. Since the country’s founding, and perhaps before it, the conditions of black people have been a serious concern for many Americans. 

To free black Americans from bondage and servitude on the plantations, the Union Army of the Northern states burned the livelihoods of their Southern countrymen down to the dirt in the Civil War of the 1860s; then a century after, both whites and blacks subjected themselves to beatings, maulings, and ostracism, as a means of voicing their righteous disdain for legalized discrimination and segregation.

Yet success in spreading freedom and equality under the law has not served as a sufficient excuse for lovers of the red, white, and black to rest on their laurels. For many today there is still tons of work to be done. For as quickly as their predecessors progressed beyond those milestones, they now appear as indistinguishable and insignificant specks in the rear view mirror of history. 

The new league of freedom fighters and abolitionists are given to downplaying the importance of equality in opportunity, despite its being the great end sought after by those who came before them. Now they tell us—under much less arduous and self-jeopardizing circumstances—that equality of outcome is what is to be hard-won. And that what precludes the attainment of this utopian state is the amorphous, indefinite, yet pervasive residue of white supremacy and racism. 

For them, if a particular group—blacks, in this case—performs worse than another, it cannot have anything to do with their natural differences. It is not like the concept of groups exists because there are differences amongst people and things. Despite their exaggerations of the benefits of diversity, they seem to think of those differences as being wholly superficial. We are all fundamentally the same, should want and have the same things, and so some negating external source is operating wherever and whenever we do not. 

The purpose of this series is to expose those differences and explain how they manifest in inequality of outcome, albeit with a twist: because discussions of this sort are always met with cries of racism, we thought it necessary to begin from the blackest basis possible, hip-hop.

Murder to Excellence – Kanye West & JAY Z (Black on Black Violence)

The wanton violence afflicting the black community is the central theme explored in the first half of Kanye West and JAY Z’s “Murder to Excellence”. Not cops killing black people—as you may have reflexively concluded. Nor men in white sheets carrying ropes and burning crosses, either. And not even neo-Nazis trying to keep malaria and West Nile-infected mosquitoes away with their tiki torches. Rather young black men senselessly murdering other young black men—and, increasingly, black children.

We do not believe that art necessarily imitates life or vice versa. The author listened to a girl say that on a date once. It was douche chilling. That saying is the epitome of corny, especially because life and art are also often in diametric opposition. Take the chorus of “Murder to Excellence”, for example:

“Paper read: ‘Murder! Black on black murder!

Paper read: Murder! Black on black murder! Yeah!”

Over here, in life, newspapers, and stations rarely condescend to report on how much blacks victimize each other with the urgency and honesty the matter should warrant. Sure. Single incidents are presented sporadically. However, overall the mainstream media belies the prevalence, potential origins, and, more tragically, the victims. West is not exaggerating when he asks “Is it genocide?” elsewhere in the track’s lyrics. In 2017, 20 blacks were victims of homicide every single day—and that number continues to rise. How many more would need to be included for the answer to that question to be a computer-modulated, Travis Scottian “Yeah!”?

Yet the literal handful of times a black person is killed or wounded in a confrontation with police, pundits are more eager to fire off than the officers they inevitably condemn, albeit about their conspiracy, pardon us, “critical” theories on race and criminal justice.

According to the FBI Criminal Victimization Report from 2019, white Americans, 12 years of age or older, made up 62 percent of the population. White victims reported suffering violent victimization at the hands of another white person 62 percent of the time. The Hispanic demo constituted roughly 17 percent of the population—not including the extraterrestrials, of course—and reported being victimized by fellow Spics at a rate of 43 percent. African Americans, a whopping 13 percent of the US population, reported being victimized by other African Americans at a rate of 70 percent. So you can bet your cotton Gucci socks that African Americans were the offenders in the majority of the homicides that took another brother’s life.

St. George Floyd’s—knee be upon him—overdose-spun-into-racist-murder was utilized by the establishment to demonize, hamstring, and critically racialize law enforcement. The establishment pushed this erroneous mythology as intensely as they did that about the killing of St. Michael Brown—hands up to him—in 2014. Parts of Missouri, the state where the Brown incident took place, devolved into war zones in the aftermath. 

The Violence Policy Center put together a report ranking the top ten US states leading in black homicide victimization using data from 2017. In it Missouri moggs every other state with its black homicide rate of 57.30 per 100,000. The runner-up, Iowa, comes in at 35.56, for comparison. While the national average sits at 20.46. They report that though Missouri has ranked very high in the report for eleven years, since 2014 it has seen crazy increases in black homicide. 

“Despite already having the highest black victimization rate in 2014, between 2014 and 2017 the black homicide victimization rate in Missouri increased by 64%”

“Missouri’s black homicide victimization rate for 2015, 2016, and 2017 are the three highest rates in the 14-year history of this study.”

This was while total arrests waned by 14%—from 260,000 arrests in 2014 down to 230,000 in 2018. Slanderous rhetoric about the police impeded their ability to proactively intervene in and investigate crime. Which, naturally, allowed it to increase.

2020’s round of assaults on the police is having similar effects on a national scale. West and Z’s hometowns, Chiraq and Bucktown/Violent Brooklyn, respectively, are already seeing rates of crime skyrocket. Mark that both cities are inhabited by considerable densities of blacks.

It is clear why “black adults in the U.S. consistently express more concern than white adults about crime,” according to the Pew Research Center. Crime, we suspect, at the hands of people who look just like them.

As Michael Jordan narrowly won his sixth NBA championship, the establishment may have narrowly reached an additional milestone in their aspirations to “advance their values into law.” Synergistically coupling the hatred for cops they have fostered in many gullible, incurious, and otherwise motivated people with absurd legal reforms, such as effectively eliminating bail and prohibiting foot chases. Thus, they have given black criminals carte blanche to terrorize the hood. Spikes in violence in Chicago and New York are surely proof that these policies are only destroying the individuals they were purportedly devised to protect.

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