So many of these white people who were raised on songs of the struggle of inner city black folks just don’t give a shit about inner city black folks.
Hip-hop artists have rapped about police brutality for decades. And hip-hop is now mainstream. It’s not uncommon to catch a popular Seth Rogen comedy, for example, and hear a string of classic hip-hop tracks from artists like KRS-One, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony or Public Enemy. “Hip-hop is everywhere,” we think. And everybody feels good about how “far we’ve come.” Shouldn’t that mean that this generation of white folks has more awareness of the problems black people face than ever before?
Black pain has provided American culture with most of its greatest art. The negro spiritual is the foundation for much of America’s musical heritage. The blues is the template by which we got rock and roll and R&B. In Hollywood, films like Boyz N the Hood generated widespread critical acclaim for its depiction of the “struggles of the young black male.” A TV series like The Wire won fans by showing the difficult to impossible circumstances in the city of Baltimore. We’ve been singing sad songs for years. And white America has often sung along. But they still don’t hear us.