If I were a betting man, I’d wager that neither Bill O’Reilly nor Don Lemon is a good dancer. Like many who go to soulful music concerts and experience the rhythms yet are unable to move to the beat, O’Reilly and Lemon have heard hip-hop (allegedly) and completely missed the literary prowess of the music.
Not long ago, pundits O’Reillyof Fox News and Lemonof CNN asserted that hip-hop music and children raised out of wedlock are root causes of all ills in the black community, including the epidemic of violence in urban areas. The lack of employment opportunities was strangely absent from their analysis. Neither man noted that, of the 25 million children being raised by a single parent in this country in 2011, the largest share by race, 9.5 million, were white, according to the National Kids Count Data Center.
The real issue is that men, both black and white, are no longer able to support families like they used to when men actually built things in this country. Economics should be the focus, because the effects of music are varied. For the past year, I’ve worked with young black and brown boys and girls in the Washington area and watched them consume, comprehend and codify literature ranging from Beowulf to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail. I’ve developed an entire curriculum,Words Liive, that teaches Common Core State Standards texts through the literary genius of Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Tupac and others.