Yesterday Russell Simmons came out publicly in support of banning the words h-word, b-word and n-word from hip-hop music. The black community, in my opinion, has much bigger things to worry about.  Removing three words from rap music will not solve poverty, crime, lack of education, lack of financial parity, self hate, prisons overpoulated with black males, racism, and so on. Education, the destruction of my personal ignorance, is what curbed my use of the words. (Also having a wife that I love and respect, and a son that I want to grow up with a general love and respect for himself and others, has helped see the “light” immensly.) We seem to be hacking at leaves instead of chopping at the root. 

I heard a little girl cursing in conversation with her mother while me and my family were at the zoo.  The girl sounded, ironically, like she was on Def Comedy Jam.  The mother was laughing and having a good time with her potty-mouthed child.  Where was I when it became ok for elementary school kids to curse around adults in public?  That kid’s mouth, I’m willing to bet, had nothing to do with Hip-Hop.  It had to do with clueless parents, and a sad educational system.

My point is that banning these words will not make any one a better person. It’s superficial. It’s cosmetic. This kind of move does not change a person’s (rapper’s?) deeply held values. We need to address the root causes that make people use the words in the first place.  We must  combat self-inflicted ignorance.  The thing about hacking at leaves is that it’s a waste of time; eventually they will fall off anyway leaving us complacent and thinking that our hard work meant something…. Then they grow back!  Let’s just knock down the whole damn tree down, turn it into mulch and grow something more positive in its place. 

(Can someone please tell me who I jacked for the “tree” metaphor!)