Black American culture dominates the world. It’s obvious and evident from one continent to the next.
Japanese youth are scratching and beat boxing and sporting the same urban African-American couture that you see in suburban Dallas or Chicago. There are hip hop songs written, sung and performed on music videos by Arabs. In South Korean, Charice Pempengco, a 15-year-old from the Phillipines, brought down the house on Star King, an Asian TV show akin to America's Got Talent, last month with a soul-stirring rendition of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from Dreamgirls–in English.
Photo courtesy japantoday.com
I’m pointing this out for the white racist and the black entertainers–rappers, comedians and jocks–on the home front who may be ignoring or missing this real-world reality.
President Bush has made millions of young people in the Arab world anti-American by unwisely shocking and awing, then occupying a major and symbolically important Muslim city. This uncalled for, and unnecessary, military assault on Baghdad threatens to give us the blues for decades to come.
Our exported culture may be able to ameliorate, if not overcome, this arrogant and imperialistic big-footing into places we’re not wanted. But, our young black entertainers must become mindful that the images they project reflect what African Americans are–and are not–to the rest of the world. I clearly remember an e-mail sent to me eight or nine years ago with a picture taken in Nigeria. It featured a shanty bar in Lagos. The name of the bar was hand-painted above the entrance: niggers.
The negatives travel as far and as wide as the good. When the images are negative, they also define and frequently limit blacks here at home, who are not as talented or rich or lucky as the entertainers transmitting them.
Thinking black entertainers must come to understand that they are our Goodwill Ambassadors at home and abroad and that the power they wield is a two-edge sword. We’re already hurting here. We don’t need to suffer any more self-inflicted pain.