Everybody is currently aware that in a few weeks, Spike Lee's latest foray into black hypertension, Chi-raq, will be released. The trailer hit the Internet with a bang and had the e-streets and the real streets talking. Some folks are already offended by the movie because of the implied depiction of Chicago. Others think that the movie could have promise despite interesting casting choices (Nick Cannon is always an interesting casting choice), and the use of a term that has been largely panned by actual residents of Chicago. Most of us just think Teyonah Parris looks good.
Spike, in typical "f—k your couch" fashion, has answered critics of his upcoming movie—which most of us haven't seen yet—with an interview intended to address a lot of the backlash. We've already learned that Spike doesn't give a f—k. And since we know this, Spike was like, why not throw out a music video to go along with the trailer that already caused some ruckus.
What we got was a fancy video for a (not-so-good) song called "WGDB" from the Chi-raq soundtrack. Richard Sherman would be proud. "WGDB" is a song about black-on-black crime. It opens up talking about how we care about Bill Cosby, but we forget about the innocent kids killed by other black people.
The line "We're the only race that shoots and kills themselves" actually ends the first stanza.
I'm not sure I even have to address how inaccurate that line is by itself. But f—kin' wow. The point is clear: Black people are out here claiming that #BlackLivesMatter and fighting against injustice, when all the while we go back home from one of those rallies and shoot one of our neighbors.
I will never understand how any reading person, especially of color, doesn't understand that the black-on-black-crime issue and the fight of #BlackLivesMatter are two separate battles. Is black-on-black crime an issue? No. Crime is an issue. And most people commit crimes against people who look like them. It's heartbreaking every time we hear a story about an innocent child murdered in the streets. And it would be heartbreaking no matter who pulled the trigger.
Chicago is one of those cities where the death tallies are staggering, and it is sad that these young men are out here killing one another and destroying the community by robbing mothers of sons and wives of husbands and children of fathers. And it does suck that these are black people killing one another over neighborhood beefs and gang problems. All of that is terrible. And yes, most of them are black and committing crimes, not because the other people are black, but because those are the people they have problems with, and these cats believe in collateral damage. And they happen to be neighbors.
That is altogether a different issue than being concerned about a social-justice system that is inherently unequal and has proved, in various locales from coast to coast, to value the life of a black suspect much less than that of a white one. It’s a wholly separate matter that black people feel a certain fear whenever engaging in any type of contact with a member of law enforcement, knowing that they could end up being the next rallying cry of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Wanting equal treatment and respect are human issues and rights. Asking how we can say that #BlackLivesMatter—a rallying cry aimed at the powers that be in media and law enforcement—when black people are killing one another in the streets completely mixes messages and misses the point.
But here Spike goes with his video for this song that effectively equates the two and lobs in the common mistaken refrain that states that black people aren't any better than the police.
We got to do better. We need to stop killing one another first before we request equal rights and treatment under the law. OK, Spike. Your video is cute. It's stupid, but cute. You talked this poor cat into singing too many words in some lines to make the point that we're all worried about the wrong things and that nobody else will respect us until we respect ourselves. Don Lemon and Spike should do a traveling tour at this point.
This song is dumb because it misses the point. It's the same reason people are concerned about the movie. Spike has made it clear that he does think that blacks need to clean house first before we worry about others coming in (and killing us, but I ain't one to gossip, so you ain't heard that from me). Implying that people care more about what happens to people we don't know because we're so used to killing one another is dangerous, stupid and, frankly, irresponsible. It's no wonder that people in Chicago aren't fans of his, no matter what he tries to convince us of.
Again, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm starting to get the feeling that this movie and songs like "WGDB" are Spike's versions of Bill Cosby's "pound cake" speech. Innocent children are getting killed in Chicago because we're too busy worried about Meek Mill and Drake. I could have saved somebody's life if I valued it over the life of people I don't know; instead, I'm telling police that black lives matter when the truth is, I don't care as much as I think I do.
I guess I got to do better.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.