ENTERTAINMENT/OPINION/POLITICS

Barack Triumphs,
Rick Ross Disgraced

My wavering enthusiasm for Barack Obama has been restored by the Democratic nominee’s triumphant tour of the Middle East. Obama has allayed fears that he might be backing down on his commitment to withdraw our troops from Iraq within the first 16 months of his presidency. What’s even more exciting is how the Iraqi government has gotten behind his plan – forcing President Bush to grudgingly agree to a “time horizon” for transferring security duties to the Iraqis.

John McCain thought he was playing an ace when he challenged Obama to go to the Persian Gulf region for talks with Iraqi and Afghan leaders and U.S. military commanders. McCain thought he would expose Obama as a foreign policy novice but, instead, he gave Obama the opportunity to demonstrate, once again, that he is a charismatic, commanding, highly intelligent and politically skillful leader who inspires confidence wherever he goes. Has any candidate ever looked more presidential than our boy Barack has in the last few days?

ANOTHER STUPID RAP SCANDAL

The ridiculous “scandal” involving thug rapper Rick Ross’ former career as a prison guard is another heartbreaking example of how the destructive, upside down values of the streets have taken hold of mainstream black youth culture. Ross, who built a career rapping about slangin’ dope on the streets of Miami, is now disgraced in hip hop circles because he apparently lied to conceal his past employment with the Florida Department of Corrections. In the crime-glorifying world of gangsta rap, working as a prison guard makes Ross little better than a police officer.

Watching this story develop on the hip hop sites has been illuminating and sad. Blogs and message boards have been buzzing with journos predicting the end of Ross’ career and fans cursing and ridiculing him as a fake gangster who lied about his past. Some of the comments have been more sympathetic, suggesting that Ross may have taken the prison job to smuggle drugs into the slammer (I guess that would make him some kind of a hero?).

This mess with Rick Ross illuminates two very serious problems. First, there’s the insane notion that drug dealers and gang-bangers (whose urban terrorism makes life hell in so many of our communities) are the “good guys” whom we should support, defend and admire. Second there’s the tragic fact that gangsta has become the commercially dominant genre of hip hop leading artists to exaggerate or fabricate criminal biographies in hopes of boosting record sales.

Commercial hip hop continues to exploit black America’s pain while reinforcing racist stereotypes and encouraging our young men to follow a lifestyle that can only lead to their doom.

But it’s just music, right? Don’t you believe it.

Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.

THINK! IT AIN’T ILLEGAL…YET!

Cameron Turner is graduate of Stanford University whose editorials, entertainment news features and audio documentaries have appeared on national radio networks, online and in print for over 20 years.


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