Stop snitchin' means more black suffering
By Phillip M. Bailey
The genesis of the Stop Snitchin’ phenomenon began with an underground bootleg DVD of the same name that appeared in late 2004. It consists of drug dealers, with a cameo by NBA star Carmelo Anthony, threatening violence against anyone who dares to report their various crimes against the community.
As in most cases, hip-hop isn’t guilty of creating the allure. Names like Jeffrey Wigand, Frank Serpico and Joseph Darby are just as famous as the scandals they helped uncover. For thirty years Americans were speculating the identity of Watergate’s “Deep Throat”, now known publicly as W. Mark Felt. Let's face it; whether called whistleblowers, tattle tales, rats or leakers, at the end of the day, America loves the story of a good snitch.
Hip-hop entrepreneurs have simply utilized the blur between urban fantasy and reality to hoist the black hoodlum to a stature where the minstrel shows of the 1920s and blaxploitation movies of the 1970s only dreamt about. The pimp, dope dealer or homicidal thug gives hip-hop merchants a gateway to sell a lot of tasteless music, DVDs and ideas to American audiences. They're not the first, and sadly won't be the last.
Nothing demonstrates, however, the moral incompetence or masochistic (self-defeating) personality disorder of hip-hoppers more than this Stop Snitchin’ movement. Young blacks are clearly the disproportionate victims of violent crime in ghettoes across America. Hip-hoppers from poor urban communities certainly know this with the surplus of R.I.P. t-shirts and songs, inner-city vigils, and makeshift memorials. For the past two years Louisville's own ghetto Grim Reaper - the ubiquitous professional activist Christopher 2X, has been warning the "nieces and nephews" about the Derby City’s bazaar of death. Still, they embrace or remain indifferent to parts of their culture that markets misery, social terror and death.
Once confronted with this stupidity the Stop Snitchin’ movement is defended by at least three arguments. The first is given by the urban fashion profiteers and their naive customers. They argue that it's just entertainment and their right to free expression. And they're right. No one should ban the Snowman (another repugnant t-shirt that is a synounym for crack dealer). Undoubtedly both producers and purchasers of this ghetto populism would cry crocodile tears with 2X on local television if their loved one was killed. So either they’re amoral merchants or mindless consumers.
Next, of course, you have your cold-blooded street thugs that may not wear the shirts but actively support the slogan for obvious reasons: they get away with robbery, rape and murder. Oddly many smart and well-intentioned community activists that care about the community will defend the little Idi Amins. Their hug-a-thug philosophy says the gatekeepers of the underworld are real victims because of their wounded pysche and little "knowledge of self". Meanwhile the real members of the community, those hard-working, productive and decent people that struggle every day to make ends meet without becoming thugs, live in neighborhoods under seige. They must wonder, who speaks for us?
That leaves the self christened hip-hop intellectual -- some from the academy, some with a "street diploma". They argue there’s a fundamental difference between snitching and witnessing. “While witnessing can be rightly considered a necessary civic practice in order to create and sustain safe communities,” says Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, “snitching is itself an act of moral turpitude.” Hill argues that “stop snitching” can serve as a protection mechanism for communities that feel unnecessarily penalized by larger institutions. Certainly there’s a level of credence to Hill’s argument. Black history is filled with acts of illegal government surveillance, bias all white juries, police brutality and cases of innocent people being wrongfully charged, imprisoned and executed. That distrust between the black community and legal justice system creates a vacuum once filled by movements for racial and social justice. But currently that void is being exploited by merciless thugs (real or fake, current or former) whose values are being distributed by a billion dollar industry of unprincipled profiteers.
Today’s code of silence isn’t being employed in support of anyone close to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. Stop Snitching -- a byproduct of Thug Life -- is not a progressive movement. It’s predatory and reactionary at best. Its only benefactors are criminals of the worst order. Distinguishing between snitching and witnessing may work in barbershop debates, hip-hop forums, fanciful academic essays and black nationalist organizations. Hair-splitting like that usually does. However, theory and practice are two very different things –- remember, Marxism sounds great on paper. And in the real world the only outcome is more black suffering
posted by Steve @ 12:10:00 AM