In regards to the case of Michael Brown, rapper Kendrick Lamar made a statement in Billboard that had a few people upset at him. In his statement, he said, “I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ed up. What happened to Michael Brown should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.” Rap artist, Azalea Banks, was totally against Kendrick’s statement and she made that clear when she took to her Twitter account and said, “HOW DARE YOU open ur face to a white publication and tell them that we don’t respect ourselves….Speak for your f–king self.”
For those of you that don’t know the story about Michael Brown’s murder (yes, I said murder), I don’t know where in the hell you’ve been hiding. But just in case you really had your head up your ass and haven’t been paying attention to the news, let me give you a lil’ history about his death. On August 9, 2014, an eighteen-year old Black male was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri by white police officer, Darren Wilson. According to reports, Brown had stolen some cigarillos from a convenience store and when Officer Wilson was called to the scene, an altercation ensued between the two of them.
There are so many reports and speculations about what happened on that day but what I do know as a fact is this: Instead of arresting Brown for stealing some cigars, Officer Wilson decided to fire his gun several times at Brown, killing him. Not only that, Brown was unarmed. Although I’m not a police officer, I absolutely refuse to believe that the police academy taught their trainees to shoot an unarmed person and let that be that. I’m very sure that the trainees are taught how to restrain someone who may be aggressive. There’s no proof that shows that Brown was the aggressor so therefore Officer Wilson chose to be trigger-happy and shoot and kill Brown.
Okay so now that I have given you a lil’ tidbit about what happened, now you can understand where Kendrick Lamar’s comments were stemming from. Do I agree with what he said? Well, kinda. As a Black woman, it hurts to see injustice done to my people. Don’t get me wrong; I love people of all races but unfortunately, not everyone has that same kind of heart. There are people in this world that is so intoxicated with evil and ignorance that they can’t see past color or culture.
However, Kendrick has a point. If you don’t have respect for yourself, you can’t expect for others to respect you. This means that you need to act as if you got some damn sense. You attract what you put out there in the atmosphere so if you act like a hoodlum, you will get treated as such. Am I calling Michael Brown a hoodlum? Absolutely NOT. This young man was on his way to college so apparently, he wasn’t going down the wrong path. But my message are for those Blacks that go around terrorizing their own people and have the nerve to get angry when someone from another race does the very same thing.
I’m not an expert but I do know that in order for people from other races to treat us with respect, we must first clean up our own mess within the Black community. We can start with our appearance. If you can pay over one-hundred dollars for Jordans, you can pay good money for a nice outfit that makes you look distinguished. If I had a dollar for every time that I saw a young Black male walking around with his pants sagging, I would be a millionaire. There’s nothing cute about it and just because you see a rap star doing it doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. NOBODY wants to see your ass or your filthy underwear. Take pride in the way that you dress by dressing like you have power. If you dress like power, you will start to think that you have power and before long, you WILL have power. Keep yourself groomed because whether you believe it or not, image means a lot in this world.
Don’t get me wrong; image is definitely not the only problem in the Black community. Image is just one of the issues that seems to be the easiest thing to fix. We have so many other problems in the Black community and it’s going to take a lot of prayer and counseling in order to correct them. It can be done but you have to realize that change first starts with you. Look at the man in the mirror and see what it is that you can do be a better example to not only the people around you but to the entire Black community. Don’t just sit on your ass and complain about what’s going on in the world. DO SOMETHING. You can be a mentor to a child, teach an adult how to read, clean up the trash in your neighborhood or pay for someone’s groceries in the check-out line. A kind act can start a chain reaction.
Now although Kendrick’s remarks make sense and I see his point, it definitely doesn’t justify the murder of Michael Brown. Whether the Black community respect themselves or not, it’s not a reason for a cop to take the life of someone who might’ve had a great future if he was given the chance. Stealing some Swisher Sweets should NOT result in someone’s life getting taken from them. Unfortunately, Officer Wilson didn’t seem care. If he cared, this situation would’ve played out differently and Brown would still be alive. His life meant more than just those damn cigars that he allegedly stole. He wasn’t a dog in the street and so he shouldn’t have been killed and left in the street like one.
Copyright © 2015 by Sonica Jackson
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