Monday, August 21, 2006

Brush Off the Bling

WaPo's Juan Williams argues all that bling fetishized by hip-hop is weighing down young black Americans and is a cultural depth-charge poised to sink what's left of the civil rights movement.

No argument here. I pretty much hate hip-hop but I can handle Jay-Z and I think Talib Kweli is amazing for all sorts of reasons, not least his DIY ethos and his social conscience.

Nevertheless, they are not role models; they are entertainers.

So Williams's thought on providing alternative heroes to young black students in the home and in history class is right on.
In order to face this century's class battles, young minds need the self-confidence that comes from examples of inspiring historical personalities, such as a black woman born into slavery who made herself a national leader, Sojourner Truth, or a black man living under rank segregation, A. Philip Randolph, who defied corporate power to break segregation in organized labor. Frederick Douglass had to teach himself how to read before standing up to defeat slavery.
You can't beat any of these three. Great American heroes regardless of race or class, they never ceased fighting for the underdog and never bowed before power. There are no closer embodiments of America's ideals than these three.