I watched…no…experienced the farewell words of President Barack Obama. Before a standing audience of almost 20,000 and millions across the nation and around the world, Mr. Obama brought to the people of the United States a message of continued hope, a call for increased engagement, and for all of us to seek the very best for our country. Beyond touting his achievements, he laid bare missed opportunities and painful losses but, in his measured tone, reminded, these are things that come with democracy. With his last formal goodbye, among cheers and tears, the whispered hopes and unimagined dreams of our ancestors, waded into the crowd, marked the countdown to his last days of office, and began the solemn steps into history.
This saddened me, but that sadness was turned into a silent rage when I came across a newsfeed about an upcoming “fight” between actor/singer Chris Brown and rapper Soulja Boy. My mind was now, as a disabled airplane, descending rapidly from cultural and national pride to the depths of nonsensical marketing. To go from a man worth of admiration to a situation worthy of admonishment, that is where I crash landed in the span of a few seconds.
Normally, in most articles, this is where one would take the time to explain the nature of the beef between these two talented, accomplished, and admired artists. I use the term artists because both of these young men demonstrate their God-given talents through various mediums and rightfully earned their title. So, as artists, as accomplished men, it is difficult to dignify their profane rationales for a fight which can only be characterized as middle school dissing. Their need to express their virility of sexual conquests, and their ability to rag on one another…not face to face…but through the safety of Instagram posts represents a disturbing continuation social engagement. If you want to know all the trifling details, there are other sources to visit.
Whether this fight is real or just a marketing ploy to play consumers to purchase the music that follows this minstrelistic calamity, it doesn’t matter. We are at a place and time in this country where the promotion of the destruction of one another should not be packaged as entertainment. This is not a professional fight where individuals who have trained in this sport are competing for a prize; it is an exhibition of the worst kind of exploitation, the selling of self-destruction.
The self-destruction spoken of is not just between the two faux-combatants, it is between all of the fans who are sucked into this pseudo-rage. Fans who are asked to be participants through their hard earned dollars. Fans who can’t wait for somebody to be destroyed…to get “F**ked Up!” The worst part of this whole internet-based charade is that the Chris Brown and Soulja Boy know this. They will be laughing to the bank while the audience cheers for something that isn’t even real.
Every day in this country, families are impacted by gun violence. Every day in this country, families are torn apart by domestic abuse. Every day in this country; assault, murder, road rage, physical and mental abuse…and it is all free for you to see on television, on the web, and in the newspapers. You have to ask yourself, Haven’t I’ve seen enough? Do I now want to pay to see two talented men, with futures, and money, and influence slap each other for about thirty seconds before they’re bent over huffing and puffing, all the while calling each other a punk-ass this or a Nigger that? Are we that starved for entertainment?
The next generation for beef resolution has to be who can get more people registered to vote. Who can organize the most feed the homeless programs? Who can get kids to read the most books? Who can fix up the most neighborhoods (I’m sorry) the streets…which they both claim to be from.
In a couple of days, a new administration is set to enact policies that will negatively impact people all across the country, those without the means or those just holding on…and especially people of color. While these two are going tit for tat, get ready for Stop and Frisk to go national. While these two growl and grit like two pit bulls goaded into a fight, people will be fighting to get base level health care.
We just can’t laugh this one off. KRS-ONE and the crew said we’re headed for self-destruction. Sometimes you have to ask yourself. Are we already here?
Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim. He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.