Political Miseducation: Why Do We Only Care If Lupe Fiasco Votes And Not The Bigger Picture?
I know you’re sayin’, “Lupe rappin’ ‘bout the same shit”/Well, that’s ‘cause ain’t shit changed, bitch/ And please don’t excuse my language/ Cause I would hate for you to misrepresent/The true expression of my anguish/ And by this far I ain’t shocked, upset, or appalled/I’m ashamed, bitch/ I can’t listen if you ain’t sayin’ shit/ And recognize all this emptiness is dangerous/Ain’t buildin’ up they confidence, we teachin’ ‘em that they ain’t shit/ If they ain’t got the latest that they saw on someone famous/Mercy of the Lord on this double-edged sword/ Instead of askin’ where the hoes is/ Maybe maybe we could ask for roses” Lupe Fiasco “ITAL (Roses)”
It’s been Lupe Fiasco vs. The United States for the past few months as it appears everyone has an axe to grind with the Chicago rapper. Everyone from Chief Keef to D.L. Hughley have had a bone to pick with Lupe. While we don’t care much for the former, it’s the latter that has us a bit curious. People have been up in arms about Lupe Fiasco’s position on American politics and his stance on voting in the presidential election. Whether it be his proclaiming that President Obama is a terrorist or simply saying that he refuses to participate in the 2012 election, people are pissed off and coming out of every opening to take a shot at Fiasco. Political columnist Roland Martin called Lupe Fiasco’s comments some of the “most ignorant, false stuff someone can say.” D.L. Hughley said that although Lupe Fiasco is “bright as hell” he is also “dumb in the ways of the world.” Congressional Black Caucus chairman Emanuel Cleaver indirectly questioned Fiasco’s African American credentials.
“That’s why I become so angry at any African-American who refuses to vote. They are not worth the color if they don’t vote,” Cleaver told the audience at the CBC forum on voting rights. “They ought to give us their color back. Their African-American credentials need to be snatched if they don’t.” That’s a bold statement to say that someone’s African American credentials should be rescinded because they don’t vote. What if they do other things that are helpful to the community? Should we ignore that? But I digress…
All this vitriol towards one rapper who has voiced opinion for over a half decade? It’s a tad eyebrow raising to say the least. Especially when you consider that he’s suddenly been tabbed as a voice that will influence whole communities. What about every other song or statement that he’s made that asks us to be more involved in our respective communities? I guess those words will constantly fall on deaf ears while his anti-establishment position has a hypnotizing effect on society.
What truly baffles me is why we continue to ask Lupe the same damn question. Do we expect him to change? Do we want a different answer? Do we really not understand his position? Or, are we just not willing to accept it and think by beating him over the head with the same question will make someone who has had the same conviction for most of his life suddenly change his mind?
You see, the thing that piques my curiosity most about how everyone has handled this Lupe situation is that we simply aren’t willing to accept a man’s educated reasoning for not participating in the voting process. It’s not as if Fiasco has come out, said “I’m not voting,” dropped the microphone like sexual chocolate and exited stage left. Ever since he hit the scene in 2006, his position has remained the same. He’s always been anti-establishment and anti-imperialism and he has never, ever wavered from that stance. It doesn’t matter if it’s Obama or Bush, Lupe Fiasco doesn’t believe in the government and its foreign policy (among other things). Because of that, he opts out of voting because he refuses to support a president from either party that participates in what he has often called “American Terrorism.”
“I didn’t vote at all. I never voted. I’m not saying I didn’t vote for Obama. I knew that the system that he works for and represents and the real people behind the scenes that he has to appease and please don’t care about anything. They don’t care about us, because they don’t think we’ll do anything. They saw the power is in the people over in Egypt so maybe they halfway care. But I’m not going to vote for that. Not for that type of government. I pay taxes every day. The taxes I pay probably paid for an entire bomb. I have the right to say whatever I want because I’m paying for it and I don’t like it.” – Lupe Fiasco The Source interview transcript (Feb. 2011)
Obviously, this is magnified as we inch towards an election day when most Americans all of a sudden get hyped up for a few months before going back to normal and completely ignoring politics. But Fiasco spends a lot of time speaking on things that affect our community or world events he wants to bring attention to. His refusal to participate in voting isn’t to disrespect those who fought for the right, it’s his personal conviction that he’s been asked about to the point of nausea. If only we asked him more about violence in Chicago instead of acting like it’s brand new or why he’s critical of the U.S. stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has a lot of food for thought but we’re stuck on one issue and neglecting the rest.
Lupe Fiasco certainly isn’t the first artist to say that he doesn’t vote, although he may be the most vocal. Talib Kweli was also not a willing participant in the voting process and his reasons were valid.
“I was following the tradition that Black Americans have had of voting for Democrats since we got the right in 1964 (temporarily). Then, Clinton, as president’s [presidents] go, seemed better than Bush Sr., but I did not like his policies in Sudan or the constant bombing of Iraq. I also did not like the way our government dragged us through the Lewinsky scandal. I felt betrayed by the system, and I stopped voting, no longer accepting of the lesser of two evils. I knew the two party system was designed to fail us. I knew that politicians must lie for a living, because it would be impossible to make good on their promises. I knew about the lobbyists and the PAC. I did not make it my issue, but if someone asked me, I would explain why I didn’t vote. Most of the time people talked to me like I [had] lost my mind, but every once in awhile someone understood.” – Talib Kweli
Kweli changed his stance with Obama’s run in 2008. He stated that although he still didn’t believe in the political system and one man’s ability to change it, Obama “deserved our support.”