by Demetrius Walker
I'll never forget my first speaking engagement as the Chief Marketing Officer of dN Group LLC. The Charles A. Tindley Charter School in Indianapolis asked me and a couple of my partners to speak in front of an entire gymnasium full of middle schoolers. It was the perfect platform because after starting my own business, I found myself wishing I had been encouraged to become a business owner at an earlier age. Speaking at Tindley was my first opportunity to promote entrepreneurship to a group of impressionable young black students.
Walking through the doors of the school, I was aware of the rampant Stop Snitching movement, which had spread across urban America courtesy of Dipset and others in Hip Hop. In fact, the first shirt idea I developed for dangerousNEGRO was Start Reading, a counter to the incessant idea that captured the full attention of the Black community. Anyway, as I prepared to take the stage that morning I spoke with a few young men about their take on Black America's biggest issues. Not surprisingly, "snitching" was at the top of their lists with poverty, AIDS, and drugs. It was quite baffling to me that they gave "snitching" the same weight as the other problems. However, in light of the celebrity grassroots movement against the detested practice, it is understandable that young minds would assume it was a number one priority. Cam'Ron went on Bill O'Reilly to defend the practice and there were thousands of shirts with red stop signs flooding the streets.
Despite the prioritization of "Stop Snitching" in the hip hop community for 2 years, it is wonderful to see that we have finally moved beyond elevating such an extraneous issue to the forefront of urban politics. How do we know that the "Stop Snitching" movement has lost steam you ask? Simple. 1. One of Hip Hop's most influential stars has publicly denounced the practice. 2. Another of Hip Hop's most revered artists has inadvertently smoothed the tension between law enforcement and Hip Hop culture. And 3. The most respected Black man in the world is a political figure/law maker.
T.I. shooting a 30 second PSA encouraging people to call the police CrimeStopper's line is monumental. Some people have argued that T.I. isn't receiving flack for the ad because it's obviously a technicality of the 1000 hour community service sentence he is serving. I agree that most likely this was written somewhere into his plea deal. However it is quite remarkable that Hip Hop has given T.I. a pass for cooperating with police. Could you imagine the backlash 50 Cent would have received for doing the same thing? He would have been completely laughed out of Hip Hop. So why is it different with T.I.? Well, it is clear that the Hip Hop generation respects T.I. more as a man than a rapper. By accepting T.I.'s contradiction, the Hip Hop community has effectively stated that the whole Stop Snitching thing isn't really that big of a deal anymore. It's played out.
Furthermore, Hip Hop's brightest star, Lil Wayne, has enjoyed major success with his hit single "Mrs. Officer." While Weezy was attempting to convey an extended metaphor (F**k the police) with his female friendly anthem, he completely missed the mark and subsequently made police officers friends of Hip Hop. I went out for Halloween 2 weeks ago and about half of the female costumes worn were police officer getups. Surprisingly, there were many dudes that dressed as cops and FBI agents as well. In fact, about halfway through the house party 4 legitimate Black officers showed up to the party in full uniform. While KRS-One's "Black Cop" played in my mind, I was amazed to see that the policemen were greeted with great contentment. I can only attribute the jump in acceptance of the police force to Weezy and the fall of the Stop Snitching movement.
Last and certainly not least, Hip Hop's overwhelming support of Barack Obama forced us to confront our mistrust of politics and authority figures. Obama will be the Commander-In-Chief of the United States soon. That means he will be the absolute Top Cop. Supporting the president means supporting the laws and policies of this country. It also means we are comfortable with Obama controlling the military domestically and abroad. Other government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, DEA, and NSA will all ultimately answer to our Black president. And Hip Hop is cool with that. Therefore, it is very difficult to be a huge Stop Snitching advocate in the midst of America's first African-American head honcho.
So do I advocate everyone calling up CrimeStoppers to rat on their friends, family, and neighbors right now? Of course not. I am happy to see that stopping the theoretical invasion of the snitches is no longer number one on the political agenda of Hip Hop though. We have AIDS, poverty, famine, unsatisfactory education, and inadequate financial literacy to tackle first. Thank you Hip Hop for growing up a lil' bit!