MUSIC – 9 p.m. “From the Old School to the New School: The History of Rap & Hip Hop, Yesterday, Today, & into the Future” with Darryl McDaniels (aka DMC) of rap group Run-DMC, among the first superstars of Hip Hop. Cost, $3/person. Ballroom, Hunt Union, SUNY Oneonta.
HARVEST FEST – 3 – 6 p.m. Celebrate Summer Harvest featuring Farmers Market, Live Music, kids zoomobile, more. Free admission, food. Guy Rathbun Park (behind firehouse), 117 Main St., Morris. Visit butternutvalleyalliance.org
CABARET – 7 – 8:30 p.m. Join the Guilty Pleasure Cabaret for a fun, all-levels, dance class sure to get you sweating. Combines elements of Jazz, Hip Hop, fitness, stiletto heals to bring out your inner diva, build confidence, find your fierce. Bring water, active wear, sneakers. Cost, $15/adult. THE CHURCH, 2381 NY-205, Mount Vision. 607-638-5119 or visit www.upsi-ny.com/upcoming-events-news/
There was a time not so long ago when the ideal on racial issues was to be color-blind, presuming the equality of all.
When that proved not to effectively
address the underlying problem of racism, affirmative action became the order of the day. It played an important role in bringing minorities, especially blacks, out of the ghettos and into prominence in the professions, the media and middle-class life.
But, at the same time, life for most blacks in the inner cities continued to deteriorate in a downward spiral marked by increasing crime, police repression,
drugs and desperation.
This is the world which gave us rap and hip hop.
Antonio Delgado’s early hip-hop recording, “Painfully Free,” has come to dominate the opening stages of the race for the 19th Congressional District.
According to the New York Times, the lyrics of his CD, made in Los Angeles when he was 28, “include frequent use of a racial epithet common among black rappers, and criticize some of the founders as ‘dead presidents’ who ‘believe in white supremacy.’”
His opponent, Congressman Faso, was quick to jump on the issue, claiming, according to the Times, that Delgado’s lyrics are “inconsistent with the
views of the people of the 19th District and America.”
Delgado shot back at once, saying of Faso, according to the Times: “In his dated mind-set, he thinks it’s accurate to suggest that if you’re black or if you’re of a certain race, you can’t be of this community.”
In an earlier interview with his alma mater, Colgate University, reported by Hybrid Magazine, he discussed his CD, saying, “Hip Hop is misunderstood.” “Hip hop is a philosophy to live by … Hip hop is its purest form conveys the plight of the underprivileged.”
Delgado, a product of a middle-class upbringing in Schenectady, and of Colgate, Harvard Law and Oxford University, hardly grew up a desperate ghetto kid. But
he did give voice to the plight of the underprivileged, as he says, and used their idiom to do so.
The world of inner city ghettos represents a festering wound in America, and its unsettling, provocative language is an unpleasant reminder to the rest of us of a major failure of our society – something we still need to fix.
No matter how uncomfortable it makes us, we should respect not condemn hip hop for the challenge it poses.
The rappers are telling us that racism, far from being something we can ignore, has been built into our culture, and thereby into how we think.
Delgado is saying that we’re not color-blind, that we’re all racists on some level. This is meant not to condemn us, but to invite us to acknowledge a common problem, which is the first step to overcoming it – like an alcoholic admitting he or she’s an alcoholic.
Like an addict in denial, Faso pretends to be color-blind. But he betrays his own prejudices by cynically stooping to play the race card against Delgado.
I’m not a racist, he insists, but Delgado must be
because he has the audacity to remind us of the truth of our tragic history.
By insisting that Delgado’s lyrics are un-American, when they are in fact as American as apple pie, Faso only deepens the racial divide. To exploit racism for votes is despicable demagoguery.
Luckily, the voters will have a choice in November of either giving in to their racism, or beginning to
Adrian Kuzminski, retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, resides in Fly Creek.
Get ready, folks. We’re going to be hearing a lot of hip-hop music between now and Nov. 6.
It was generally known during the just-completed primary campaign in our 19th Congressional District that the victor, Antonio Delgado, had been involved in a rap venture in Los Angeles more than a decade ago, but details were fuzzy. And they didn’t really matter: Chances were even or better that he wouldn’t win.
But June 26, he did win the nomination to challenge freshman congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and it didn’t take long for the New York Post to get or, or be put on, the scent.
“He put out an 18-song CD titled ‘Painfully Free,’ in 2006,” the Post reported July 8, “in which he frequently hurls the N-word, slaps the two-party political system, rips the ‘dead’ president as ‘white supremacists,’ blasts capitalism, likens blacks to modern day slaves, calls poverty the ‘purest form of terrorism’” etc., etc.
Since, other outlets are picking up on the story, thanks to a press release from Faso saying, ““I was shocked” – shocked! – “and surprised to learn Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics.”
On July 12, HV1.com, the website for five weeklies around Woodstock, had this: “Faso hammers Delgado on past hip-hop lyrics; Delgado says Faso’s ‘feeding into racial biases’.”
On July 14 in The Gazette, Schenectady: “Faso pivoted from carpetbagger attacks to arguing that the Schenectady native’s hip-hop lyrics ‘paint an ugly and false picture of America’.”
On July 13, the Times Herald-Record, Middletown, reported on a statement from 17 local clergy: “Shame on (Faso). This tactic should be called out for what it is: a thinly veiled racist attack for the purpose of insinuating fear in the voters of our district.”
And it’s accelerating. The fat’s on the fire.
There’s a cautionary tale here.
At the end of May, six of the seven Democrats running in the primary signed a pledge agreeing not to criticize each other.
Why, in a hard-fought campaign where candidates were having a problem differentiating themselves from everybody else in voters’ eyes, would this be desirable?
From a practical standpoint, if Delgado’s hip-hop muse had been dissected in the primary, perhaps he wouldn’t be the Democratic candidate; if he had been anyhow, the rap revelations would have been a shock to no one by now.
Yes, there are practical reasons to fully practice First Amendment Rights.
As you might expect, Delgado – a Colgate and Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar and lawyer at a top (albeit politically connected) firm – had a smooth response to the Post.
“This is a willful and selective misreading of my work for political purposes,” he said. “My music defies the same stereotypical notions that led you … to immediately hear certain words and think they are bad or scary. If you listen to the content of the lyrics, my mission is clear.”
One review of “Painfully Free,” the 2006 CD, cited in the Post, said its “hardcore hip-hop/rap numbers tear into society hypocrisies and imperfections.” The album notes call the sound “fresh, sharp, political and spiritual” –
not so bad.
In any event, voters can decide for themselves. Go to Spotify, the music site, type in “AD the Voice,” Delgado’s stage name, and you can listen to it all.
Of course, rap itself has been controversial since it came onto the general music scene a three decades ago.
In 2012, theologian Emmett Price III sought to understand the music as part of black tradition. A reviewer of his book of essays, “The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture,” that found both the church and rap were “impassioned with the same urgent desires for survival and hope.”
Nothing the matter with that. Still, the actual lyrics in AD the Voice’s numbers will no doubt be jarring to many in the 19th. And, if the lyrics are being misinterpreted, it will be Delgado’s challenge to put them in context. He very well might.
If you haven’t met him, you will find him open, engaging, approachable; hardly threatening – “a young Barack Obama,” he was called in this newspaper a year ago after his first appearance in Oneonta. He has many strengths to bring to bear.
For Faso, this issue may seem like pure gold, and it may be. (The first radio ad, by the Congressional Leadership Fund, cited Delgado’s views as “explosive,
out of touch, liberal.”)
But given Delgado’s TV ad in a last days of the primary – a cancer victim wins Faso’s assurances he will protect her insurance, only to vote to water down the Affordable Care Act; Google “antonio delgado promise ad” – he would be wise not to be complacent, which no doubt he isn’t.