Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In which I agree with Leonard Pitts...

...yet again:

An open letter to African-American women:
It's about the need to be beautiful, I know.
...go on, sister, do what you do. I ain't mad at'cha. But neither am I fooled by your chemicals and weaves.
I am your brother, your father, your husband and your son. I've seen you in church with big hats on, giving children the evil eye. And at the jail on visiting day, shoring up that wayward man. And at the bus stop in the rain on your way to work. And at the dining table with pen and paper, working miracles of money. When I was a baby, you nursed me; when we were children, I chased you through the house; when we were dating, I missed half the movie, stealing sugar from you. I saw you born; I took you to your prom; I glowed with pride when you went off to school. I have married you and buried you. I love your smile. A million times, you took my breath away.
You are the rock and salvation of our people, the faith that remains when all hope is gone. So if it's about the need to be beautiful, maybe it's time somebody told you:
You already are. You always were.

As you longtime readers know, I rarely agree with Leonard Pitts -- but when he does hit the target he tends to nail it right on the nose. As I read this column, I thought that he should take on what black music has become. Before I wrote that, though, I hit Google searching for "Leonard Pitts rap music" and found out that he has done that at least a couple of times. One choice snippet:
I find myself wondering how black culture, that old sweet song of strivers and lovers, blues and rhythm and how I got over, ever came to this. Is this how the present generation of black entertainers builds upon the opportunities secured for them by the sacrifices of those who came before? Is this why Nat Cole was attacked onstage by white racists and Paul Robeson was blacklisted? Is it why the Temptations endured segregated ballrooms and Sammy Davis put up with death threats? So that two petty thugs with a reported 14 bullet wounds between them (50 Cent and The Game -- ed.) can get rich off coonish stereotypes that would make Sambo blush?
And another:
The vast majority of that genre's (rap -- ed.) practitioners are nothing more and nothing less than modern-day Uncle Toms, selling out African-American dreams by peddling a cartoon of African-American life unencumbered by values. It is a cynical, knowing act, promulgated by young men and women who get rich by selling lies of authenticity to young people, white and black, who are looking for lessons in blackness. They are as much minstrels and peddlers of stereotype as Stepin Fetchit, Bert Williams or any black performer who ever smeared black goop on his face or shuffled onstage beneath a battered top hat.
The only difference - the only one - is that Bert Williams and Stepin Fetchit had no other choice.

As I say, when Pitts is on target he's on target.