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STOLEN CULTURE (Mumia Abu-Jamal)

by Mumia Abu-Jamal Thursday, Nov. 08, 2001 at 7:05 PM

Every generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. --- Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

[Col. Writ. 10/29/01] Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal
Every generation must, out of relative obscurity,
discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.
--- Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
The current craze in rap/hip-hop music, commonly
called 'gangsta rap,' is widely criticized by middle-
class, and middle-aged, observers, who see the
music as (if they see it as 'music' at all!) nihilistic,
foul, negative, and profoundly anti-woman in tone.
It is this very negative response of the elders of the
Civil Rights and Feminist eras that further endears
it to the very young, who have few thrills in their
lives that are sweeter than upsetting their parents
and other elders.
However, neither the phenomenon called 'gangsta'
music, nor the related pimpology that is reflected in
popular music, comes out of the other.  Both trends
arise from the commercial exploitation of Black
popular culture, and also from the political repression
visited upon Black America from the national
In a recent discussion with a twenty-something who
was a new import to Death Row, the writer was
surprised by the young man's positive remarks about
pimps and pimping.
When several elder men asked him about his ideas,
and where they came from, they were further surprised
that the source for his positive views was a 1970s-era
flick called "The Mack," which glorified pimp life.  He,
in turn, was truly surprised to learn that the movie
was a fantasy, and that in many communities, such
as his hometown, Philadelphia, the term, "pimp,"
was a term of derision; a put-down.
"You mean it wasn't really like that, ina old days,
like it was in 'The Mack'?", he asked, incredulously.
Such is the power of film, that a youngster can view
such escapist fantasy, and think it portrayed true life.
How many young rappers, who glorify pimp life
in their music, think the same thing?
There is another, far more sinister reason, explained
by Geronimo ji-jaga, the former Defense Minister of
the L.A. Black Panther Party, and former political
    Huey Newton gave a lecture on that one time
    and we had foreseen that this was gonna
    happen.  After the leadership of the Black
    Panther Party was attacked at the end of
    the '60s and the early '70s, throughout the
    Black and other oppressed communities,
    the role models for the up-coming
    generations became the pimps, the
    gangsters, the drug-dealers, etc.  This is
    what the government wanted to happen.
    The net result was that the gangs were
    being formed, coming together with a
    gangster mentality, as opposed to the
    revolutionary progressive mentality we
    would have given them.  So, by
    eliminating or driving the progressive
    leadership -- the correct role models
    underground, killing them and putting
    them into prison eliminating them --
    all of these younger generations were
    left prey to whatever the government
    wanted to put them into.
    [fr. Interview with H. Kleffner (1993)]
Therefore, the 'gangsta'-pimp twist has its origins
in economic, cultural exploitation, as well as
government, political repression.
Similarly, long-time readers of this column will
recall the tale of yet another young Death Row
denizen, who, although he possessed an acute
intelligence, knew absolutely nothing significant
about the Black Panther Party, even though he
was born, lived, and almost died in North Philadelphia
streets, perhaps a mile from where the old Panther
office stood, on Columbia Avenue (since renamed
after the late civil rights lawyer, Cecil B. Moore).
His most influential cultural consumption?
While he listened to rap, he was turned on the most by
the exploits of Cuban gangster, Tony Montana, of the
film, "Scarface."  More young rappers were perhaps
deeply influenced by the obscene wealth accrued by
the immigrant cocaine dealer, than by the exploits
of other rappers.
The lesson here is that toxic cultural productions
further produces toxic cultural products, and while
one is lauded as powerful art, the other is damned as
dangerous doggerel.  What is missed, however, is
that they are all intimately related.
For both art forms are based on what the late Dr. Huey
P. Newton (founder, Black Panther Party) called the
"illegitimate capitalists," or those who sought to acquire
capital through extra-legal means.  And both reflected
U.S. populations that were excluded from well-paying
avenues of American economic life.  One produces
the other.
Copyright 2001 MAJ

"We are fighting the last battle to Free Mumia, and need support now
more than ever.  We need donations of money, calling cards, copy cards,
etc. and we really need manpower.  We need people to be in the streets
every day putting out information, demonstrating, raising money, and doing
whatever you can to help."

"Tell judge pamela dembe to hold an evidentiary hearing and a new
post-conviction relief appeal, to hear the confession of Arnold Beverly
and to let Mumia be at the hearings in his "trial".  Tell mayor john
street to keep his promise and do what he can to help Mumia receive a
fair trial and to hold an independent investigation into the case.  (you
can get a sample of both of these letters at

pamela dembe: 1417 criminal justice center 1301 Filbert St. philadelphia
pa, 19107 Phone 215 683-7148 Fax 215 683-7150

john street: room 215 city hall philadelphia pa 19107
Phone 215 686-3000 Fax 215 686-2170"

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
 P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143
 Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180/
 E-mail - /

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
    Mumia Abu-Jamal
    AM 8335
    175 Progress Drive
    Waynesburg, PA  15370


This column may be reprinted and/or distributed by
electronic means, but only for non-commercial use, and
only with the inclusion of the following copyright

Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things

Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

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