Editors Note: This post emerged from a commentary I made on Facebook while watching the BET Awards on Sunday evening. Yes, I watched. Don’t screw your face up like that at me, I turned in my “woke card” for the night. I made a commentary on the contrast between the recognized activism of Chance the Rapper, and the marginalized and punished activism of Colin Kaepernick. Below are my comments, for the purpose of clarification. -M.P.
To make it crystal clear about why I said what I said earlier about the highlighted activism of Chance The Rapper, I maintain the following. On the liberal/progressive left there’s a tendency that I notice that the mainstream does indeed promote certain kinds of activism, while marginalizing others. Whether you realize it or not, this is done deliberately to act as a control mechanism as to what is within the bounds of acceptable activism. By putting a gold star next to the activists that the system likes.. you control your opposition.
When I said look behind the curtain, I meant to look at the people and forces behind Chance. Namely, his father works for Rahm Emanuel. While it’s a good thing that he donated millions to the Chicago public schools, I think it’s fair to ask why is it that the public schools are even in the position of needing charity in the first place. How about proper funding? Rahm Emanuel is no friend of education, and has presided over layoffs and budget cuts.
My point in comparing him to Colin Kaepernick is to differentiate how his activism is reacted to in a much more hostile manner. The point about the corporate, conservative nature of the NFL is well taken, but is Viacom (which owns BET) any less corporate?
The pushback that Kaepernick has been and is still receiving due to his stance on police murder is coming from some powerful segments of society. Even a symbolic challenge to the murder streak that law enforcement has been on is too much. The notion that Black unarmed people shouldn’t be killed is some kind of wild eyed radical idea.
I’m not saying that Chance is a bad guy, and my assessment is not based off of whether I “know” him or not. Ascribing personal animus to a matter when someone makes a distinction between activism that is rewarded and activism that is punished is a deflection.
The fact that mainstream outlets can handpick who represents our interests is a problem. It’s probably too early for folks to see how this is going to play out, but the pattern is there. There’s no royalty in this country, and no one is above criticism.
If we’re at the point where we can’t point out a sharp difference in how activists are regarded without resorting to fits, then we are in worse shape in terms of critical thinking as a group than I thought.
As always, your commentary is welcome.