Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tupac Shakur

I had a talk about Womanism last night, and the intersection of race and gender that every Black woman has to deal with. I don't have an agenda against men or Black men; I don't, however, feel as though not speaking the truth or an opinion that is generally overlooked to maintain any person's (man/woman/entertainer/whatever) legacy is cool. I don't think Black men (/any men) are the scourge of society. I love men. No, really, I looooove men.

I don't hate Tupac Shakur. I think he has a lasting legacy that speaks to multiple sides in him; from Tupac the poet to Tupac "Thug Life" Shakur. I awakened this morning and among "Happy Birthday Tupac" tweets were tweets about Tupac's real, genuine love for Black women as evidenced by his lyrics:

And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it's time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don't we'll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can't make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up

Now, I love this song because it is uplifting and I can appreciate the struggles being acknowledged. I love some of Tupac's music and can appreciate the aspects of his life and personality; in some regards, he was poetic. I realize that music is entertainment and entertainment is not real life, which is why I decided to offer a counter opinion in stating that Tupac was also convicted of rape and has demeaned women to a certain point; regardless of if you want to distinguish the difference between "women" and "bitches":

I did point out in my conversations about the brotha that, true enough, he has inspired many people. Many of the people my age when I was coming up were caught up in the "Thug Life" message, though. A lot of people are able to point out the positive messages in his music as well but I pointed out that praising a man as a hero and ignoring his wrongdoing is sending a poor message to young men and women coming up.

A person that I was engaged with completely doubted the fact that the victim was sexually assaulted because of a retraction of statement, though, after he was convicted of a crime is, to me, a form of victim blaming/precipitation in that a young woman (who still contends in articles and online to this day that she was raped) is being disbelieved because of a man's own celebrity. I wasn't there, but let's look from a socio-cultural and legal/historical standpoint:

Yes, "convicted" of does not always mean guilty, especially in terms of Black men and the American justice (or "just-us") system. However, rape/sexual assault has a low conviction rate because of the he-say/she-say nature of a trial. Fact. Also fact is this: Black man on white woman sexual assault (or alleged sexual assault) is typically punished far more than rape that allegedly occurs within the same race. Fact. More factually, though, is the historical idea that crimes WITHIN the Black comunity the Black community alone have been isolated by the American justice system, forcing them to become Black issues - which is one of the reasons that sexual assault is reported far less from within the Black community.

I'm not saying that there has never been a woman that has alleged that a rape happened that did not occur. I am, however, saying that the dynamics from within the Black community tend to speak to our history from inside America and regardless of conviction or not, rape allegations should be taken seriously. Imagine being raised to believe that you have to protect your brotha and look out for the best of the community, by any means necessary. Do you turn your brotha in for sexually assaulting you? Do you deal with the harassment of his friends, family or fans for a lie? Do you listen to and allow your name to become everybody's description of a whore to get back at someone in criminal court (which translates to jail-time, not money)? Why would you lie?

Regardless, my point in acknowledging his convictions - not a supposed opinion of him - is this: how do you explain to your sister, daughter, little cousin, or niece that he held this incredibly deep love for his sistas, as evidenced by his music, but is caught up in illegal activities, has been locked up, and yes - has been convicted of sexual abuse? And that he should be praised and celebrated?

Unfortunately, the things that we see are not all of man. I have no interest in demonizing Tupac Shakur as a man because his music is left behind and has some positive messages in it for the community. I do, however, want to bring an issue of conflicting persona to everyone's attentions. People can be profound. People are human, and that does not excuse any wrongdoing whatsoever. People, however, should be interested in explaining the complexities and roundness of the people that they choose to "praise" instead of ignoring the bad for the sake of what you perceived their character to be?

EDIT: I'd like to point that one of my major beliefs is separating "entertainment" from reality. While I note that one feeds the other in terms of the ideas perpetuated as "truths", entertainment is valid but does not take away from the reality of any situation. For instance, I do realize that I've quoted Biggie in a post, and that doesn't take away from his upbringings and the realities - even when he continuously rapped about the selling of drugs and has also said disrespectful things about and regarding women. My point is this: ignoring the human side of an individual where they have publicly illustrated their own wrongdoing to sustain a positive image and/or legacy of them is wrong. For the sake of our youth, just tell the entire truth.

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