Monday, September 1, 2014

25 Years Later We're Still Fighting The Power - @PublicEnemyFTP

I remember turning on the TV and seeing this video for the first time. I was mesmerized as a 16 year old to see the power within the video of a group of people coming together for a united front.  Even at such an early age I recognized what that video meant to me as a black teen.  It meant that there was still work to do to bring about equality in the United States among the races.  I had no idea how much more this video would mean to me 25 years later after Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO.

Seeing the unity that "Fight The Power" displayed in a rap video was nothing short of amazing.  This wasn't a group of rappers coming together on their own for a cause like "Self Destruction" or "We're All in the Same Gang."  This was a video about a rap group marching down the streets of Brooklyn during the time of a political rally and the people just randomly started joining in.  It was just recently that I found out that the neighborhood people showed up only by word of mouth.  There was no plan to have them all there.

I got on board the PE train with their first album, "Yo! Bum Rush the Show!" in 1987.  I was fascinated with the side of blackness they taught that I couldn't get anywhere else at the time.  Remember that this was roughly five years before people starting regularly using the Internet.  In fact, a majority of the black history that I learned as a youth came from listening to Public Enemy.  I would listen to their album and then go to my city library to learn about the people they mentioned.   Stokely Carmichael.  H. Rap Brown.  Huey P. Newton (Huey Freeman on the "Boondocks" series is named after him).  These were people that were never talked about in any history books that I read at school.  And regardless of how people felt about them and what they represented they were still a very important part of black history which is essentially American history.

The video also contained images that will forever be embedded in my brain of Angela Davis, Medgar Evers, Jackie Robinson, signs that encouraged voter registration, and most importantly, youth participation.  There were kids everywhere in this video.  Also, one of the most powerful scenes at the time was at the 6:00 mark when teenager, Tawana Brawley, was shown standing in all white.

Tawana was part of a huge rape case back in 1987 when she accused six white men of raping and defiling her.  Although it was ruled in 1988 that she made up the false allegations against her accusers, she has always stuck by her story and said that the rape occurred.  Seeing her smiling and participating in the video was a sign that she was still standing strong with the support of the black community.  The community had her back.  That sentiment was also shown in Spike Lee's movie, "Do The Right Thing," with a scene that displayed graffiti on the wall that said "Tawana told the truth."  I can still remember the applause in the theater when people saw it during the movie.

"Fight The Power" would prove to have an impact on the consciousness of many people of all colors as it depicted how black people came together to promote unity.  Another important part of the video to note is that it showed how blacks can be peaceful yet firm in making an impact on society.  Despite the "nervous" police presence according to P.E. front man, Chuck D, there were no incidents.  Not one.

Enter 2014.  Music has changed tremendously.  The only people rapping about political consciousness aren't on the radio.  Gone are the days where KRS-1 is rapping "Why is That?" or Gang Starr is dropping knowledge on "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?"

I'll continue to hold on to old school rap although I know it's next to impossible to pass down to younger generations.  They just aren't buying into things from back in the day.  However, I'll do what I can to expose them to conscious rap with hopes that it catches on.  I won't let Public Enemy die with my generation.

So, click on the video below and "Fight The Power" in 2014.  We still have a long way to go.

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