Recent published reports have lamented the fact that Afro-American youth are remarkably resistant and virtually unresponsive to traditional big-name public relations and big-time sports figures when they utilize the major media to attempt to communicate with younger Blacks. The study found deep and profound alienation amongst youth, and a fundamental streak of fatalism about the promise of tomorrow, a sense that tomorrow may come so let’s live today permeates youth consciousness.
The youth while they view large blocks of TV perceive it from the position of outsiders, knowing that the dramas, comedies, and news programs are not designed for their consumption. Only the urbo-tech musical form known as rap touches them, for it is born of urban youth consciousness and speaks to them in their idiom about lives lived on the marginalia. It is this profound disassociation that forced members of the noveau-middle-class Blacks to lament the youth as the lost generation. But are they really lost? And if so, to whom?
The Martiniquan Black revolutionary France Frantz Fanon once opined that every generation must find its destiny, fulfill it or betray it. In my father’s generation, Southern-born of the late 1890s, their destiny was to move their families north to lands with a promise of a better life away from the hateful homelands in Dixie. The dreams of that generation sparked by visions of new homes better education, new cars, and prosperity were in relative terms realized by some, but Northbound Africans were never able to outrun the stigma of racism. By the time the 50s and 60s generation came of age, during the Nixon-Reagan-Bush eras, race once again defined the limits of black aspirations, and with the shifting of manufacturing jobs back down South and abroad, so went dreams of relative prosperity.
The children of this generation, born into sobering poverty amiss shimmering opulence, watching while sinister politicians spit on their very existence, these youth are the hip hop rap generation, locked out of the legal means of material survival, looked down upon by predatory politicians and police, left with the least relevant educational opportunities, taught act with contempt and not taught to with love. Is there any question why such youth are alienated? Why the surprise? They look at the lives they live and don’t see civil rights progress but a drumbeat of civil repression by a state at war with their dreams. Why the surprise?
This is not the lost generation. They are the children of the LA rebellion. The children of The MOVE Bombing. The children of the Black Panthers and the grandchildren of Malcolm. Far from lost they are probably the most aware generation since Nat Turner’s. They are not so much lost, as they are mislaid, discarded by their increasingly racist system that undermines their inherent worth. They are all potential revolutionaries with the historic power to transform our doll realities. If they’re lost, then find them.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.