Hey. Let ’em know.
A little bit about this video:
Long before Flava Flav became a reality show punch line (or a would-be fried chicken mogul), back when Chuck D was more of a political subversive than the kind of respected activist who would be called on to testify in front of Congress, Public Enemy released the track “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Like many songs from that era, the lyrics dealt with the crack epidemic that was decimating African-American communities around the country in 1988, the year it was released. In the song, Chuck D calls out black crack dealers who sell to their own, rapping, “Another kilo/From a corner from a brother to keep another/Below.“
The Oakland-based group SOS Justice has reframed the classic hip-hop narrative of the ’80s and ’90s that “Baseheads“ fits into. Instead of being critical of people contributing to the African-American disenfranchisement by selling drugs back into the community—or of the government injecting crack-cocaine into black neighborhoods as a means of repression—the group’s new music video sets its sights on a modern epidemic: the domination of cheap, highly processed food in minority neighborhoods.
Instead of the choice between a crack pipe and a future, the young protagonist of the video has to pick between a carrot and a Red Bull. Street bums are shown drinking sodas instead of malt liquor; a white dusting of aspartame coats the upper lip of an addict rather than a Schedule 1 drug; death-by-processed-food is recurrent.
“Who would have known you can die from a diet,” raps Seasunz, who both stars in the video and had his hand in various production elements, “Diabetes and the -itis from the dairy and the dose of the high fructose.” [source]
My first thoughts were, quite honestly, about how often we’re told that black and brown people only want trash food in their communities and that’s all they eat… instead of embracing the fact that that’s what people eat for any number of reasons. I’ve even made the argument before that this is what’s available in these communities because it’s what people eat, but you need to go deeper than that.
For goodness sakes, the Good Times clip (wasn’t that good times?) talked about how they’re not eating caviar because they’re eating cheap. They’re getting all the calories they can on as few pennies as possible because money is scarce.
My second thoughts were… what would happen if the government funneled money into getting better quality grocery stores and resources for cooking in the hood, and not just poured Medicare money into podiatrists and dialysis centers in the hood? Proactive care, instead of reactive?
My third thought was “Damn, how many people would expect people who look like this to not have a clue about any of this stuff?”
I love it.
What did you think?