#Freguson, ‘Murrka, and the Attempt to Make John Legend a Minstrel

He's on Mitt's right knee. I see you squinting.

He’s on Mitt’s right knee. I see you squinting.

Greetings M.O.M. Squad! I won’t keep you long this morning. I just wanted to ask if you’ve been paying attention to reactions to “our” rage. In a sick way, I’m pleased that the definition of “us” and “we” is steadily becoming wider. As more and more Black men sire children with White women, they too have come to understand the worry and fear that accompanies an event as dull as sending your kid to the gas station or walking to Grandma’s house.  Let’s not leave out the kind hearted folks who save our Black sons and daughters from certain doom through the magic of adoption. I wonder if Mitt Romney spends any portion of his nights or weekends wondering if his grandchild will be shot at or shooed away from the country club grounds at age 16? If he’s non-compliant (or doesn’t comply fast enough) little Kieran Romney could find himself in a pool of his own blood. I would advise Mitt to start practicing and strategizing on how to deal with the anguish now.

Radmom thought: Someone really ought to create an app for that. Obviously, there’s a huge market for it…

Denzel JamalNope; not gonna keep you long today because before Michael Brown’s body has had a chance to get good and cold in the ground, I’ve heard tell of another teen shot and killed by South Caroline police. Eye witnesses say they saw an officer order him to the ground with his hands behind his head, after which he was executed in the street. The details are sketchy because police have not been forthcoming with evidence, but they say Denzel Curnell’s death was the result of s suicide. They allege he shot himself on the right side of his head. Trouble is, Denzel Curnell was left handed, according to his family.

This morning I trawling through my Twitter TL, as is my custom, when I came across what can only be described as a very peculiar tweet.

Jlegen

Yes, you read that correctly. Whoever is behind the handle at IBNN News just told John Legend to keep sangin’ and stop opinin’ about what goes on in his country. Now this is where it gets interesting. IBNN News describes itself as:

News and Politics with a focus on outcomes within the Black community by using real investigative reporting and following the money.

It’s just a hunch, but I highly doubt these brothas are doing any “real investigative reporting”. That’s twitter bloviating at its finest. These are a crop of young guys, with little world experience or historical knowledge. What else can explain such a blunder?

Legend’s response was succinct, targeted and was surely devastating to the ego of whomever was handling the twitter account at the time. (We’ve already talked about how one douche bag behind a keyboard can ruin an entire brand’s reputation before it even has a chance to blossom. Here’s another example.) The man has proven – again – that he’s not just a pretty face with the voice of an inebriated angel, but he’s smart and civic minded as well.

Fans and people who can read know that John Legend has spear headed and partnered with several causes to improve outcomes for the nation’s poor and disenfranchised. He initiated the Show Me Campaign  which aims to break the cycle of poverty through education. John also sits on the Boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, and the Harlem Village Academies. He has been lauded for his activism and humanitarian work, and used his celebrity as an accelerant for the success of those efforts. Contrary to what mainstream culture would have you believe, the benefits of Black celebrity do not exclusively manifest themselves in the purchase of exotic vodka or extravagant sea craft.

The reaction to tell a musician to “stay in his lane” when it comes to the plight of minorities is not a new one. I remember my first boss recounting a tale his uncle had told him from years before. I can’t remember what we were talking about. It could have been anything. The office was a mixed bag of races and personalities. We had a conservative Indian, the Irish sales guy addicted to porn, a Mexican IT manager, the drunk Cajun, three ‘regular’ white Americans (two of whom were involved in a sexual relationship. They eventually got married) and me. Anyway, Tom*, our director said this in conversation one day:

“My uncle saw Harry Belafonte on an elevator once.”

“Really?”

“How cool!”

“Oh yeah,” my former boss continued. “He had something he had always wanted to say to him. Couldn’t believe he’d finally had the chance. He goes ‘Sir, I really like your music… but your politics SUCKS!’ and then he walked right off the elevator.”

Portrait

“What did Harry Belafonte say??”

Tom shrugged. “Nothing. My uncle never gave him a chance to respond.”

People of a certain generation will understand exactly what kind of disgust and cynicism – for both parties – was involved in that encounter. Harry Belafonte was big news in the 50’s and 60’s. He was the Calypso King. He was an international sensation. But he was also a vehement civil rights activist, and was very vocal about the tyranny of the majority and the terrorism Black people were suffering under in this country. Essentially, Tom’s uncle was telling Mr. Belafonte to ‘stay in his lane’ and stick to music n’ stop stirrin’ up all that trouble with that equality talk.

Riiiight…

Cue the banjos!

Minstrel

Of course we know that this is an inane idea: that a celebrity should be so narrow minded in their thinking. Celebrities are limited in what they can say publicly of course (because they have to make sales) but there are those times when one is compelled to ignore the glint of gold and speak up for ones convictions, especially when they hit so close to home. The people who live in ‘Fergustan’, and cities just like it, are those who John Legend tries to reach through his activism. Sarah McLachlan has her dogs and John Legend has his people. Should Sarah also be advised to stay in her lane and commit only warbling melancholy tunes and selling them for profit?

sarah_mcLachlan

Like I said, didn’t want to keep you long. Just wanted to see if you had taken note of how folk are policing our reactions…because I have. Now, let’s leave you with a little laugh courtesy of Mr. Legend, shall we? No really, it’s funny. *cackle*

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