Just So You Know We're Not Making This Shit Up

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
michael brown

From "Michael Brown Spent Last Weeks Grappling With Problems and Promise" — today's NY Times piece about Michael Brown. Who, by the way, was buried today, two weeks after getting killed by a police officer.

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor. […]

From "Darren Wilson Was Low-Profile Officer With Unsettled Early Days" — today's NY Times piece about Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown.

As a teenager, Darren Wilson lived in St. Peters, Mo., a mostly white city of 54,000 about 20 miles west of Ferguson, where his environment was chaotic. He was the eldest of three children of Tonya Dee Durso, who, records show, carried out financial crimes, including against Sandra Lee Finney, who lived across the street and had believed they were friends.

Michael Brown was "no angel" and had a "troubled" past. Darren Wilson, whose background was much, much more "troubled" than Michael Brown's — in fact, someone interviewed in the article actually says "…he did have a troubled childhood" — had an "unremarkable" life and an "unsettled" past.

These may seem like small details. But that subtle word distinction matters in helping to provide a panoramic context. After repeatedly hearing that Michael Brown was "troubled" and "no angel" and "battling demons" and "an amateur rapper" it colors your perception of who he was…which in turn makes him seem less "innocent"…which in turn makes him more deserving of whatever happened to him.



Not to take the focus off of today's funeral, but c'mon with that 'rap = criminal' bullshit, yo. I'm so sick of people demonizing it, although I understand how one can arrive at that supposition. I just wish more people realized that what you see in Hip-Hop music today is just as whored out, strung out, and bastardized as any other contemporary genres that the people criticizing Rap follow.

And I'd appreciate if listeners of true hip-hop (not hip-pop, and not only hip-hop from 20 years ago) would stop being completely silent in exactly the wrong ways when it comes to rap being blamed for shit. Don't just defend the genre as a whole, but defend what deserves defending, WITHIN the genre. Shit, I'd even cast equal amounts of blame on the bullshit on the radio as the rest of the media does, if I could manage to get the word in edgewise that this blame should be more specifically directed at the money-hungry culturephiles that run the major record labels and TV networks.