Lupe Fiasco's Bold Stand—And the Truth About Obama

February 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



From a reader:

On Martin Luther King Day, which was also the day of the inauguration of Barack Obama, I woke up angry and outraged. The world does not have to be the way it is. The masses of people here and around the world should not have to live another day under a system of capitalism-imperialism which grinds the majority of people up with no regard, and then tells people that this is the best that humanity can do, and trying to do anything else, especially communism would be nothing but a disaster. That is more than enough to make me sick, and others like me who are fighting for a different, and far better world. Today though something happened that made me even more indignant. All over Facebook, various blogs, and even TV One, a popular cable television channel catered to African Americans, was the news that last night at an inauguration party, Lupe Fiasco, a rapper who is popular among progressive youth was asked to perform.

Lupe Fiasco escorted off stage

"Rock On" turned off the stage lights and sent several large men from security to surround the rapper and escort him off the stage. Artists like Lupe Fiasco should be supported when they speak the truth about this system and Obama's role in leading it now.

Lupe Fiasco performed his song "Words I Never Said." If you haven't heard this song he says in his lyrics at the end of the first verse “Limbaugh is a racist. Glenn Beck is a racist. Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say shit. That's why I didn't vote for him, next one either.” Well during his performance, he did not shy away from uttering those exact same lyrics in front of a large crowd who was there to celebrate four more years of Barack Obama's rule. He was immediately heckled, and forced offstage. In the aftermath of this I saw that there were various forces on the blogosphere, and other media that were calling for him to be boycotted. This is BULLSHIT!

First off let's get into the essence of the matter. Was what Lupe Fiasco saying have any truth to it? On several occasions during his presidency thus far Israel has taken unjust military action against the Palestinian people. Bombings, raids, assassinations and the advancement of settlements along the West Bank, forcing Palestinians off their land. All of these things have taken place. Not just alleged "enemy combatants," but civilian men, women, and children who have nothing to do with this conflict have been killed as a result of Israeli aggression. This brings me back to the November issue of Revolution newspaper and the article titled "Israel's Murderous Assault on the People in Gaza... And the Need to Oppose These Crimes NOW." It tells of a doctor's post on Facebook saying that in less than 2 hours, 14 military attacks took place against different targets in different parts of the Gaza Strip, 6 were killed including 2 young girls age 4 and 7, also leaving 11 injured without adequate emergency medication, and no power. He says at the end that this aggression must stop now. Think about this happening over and over again to the people of Palestine and that the U.S. and Israel are inflicting this terror.

What has Barack Obama done during all of this? He has said nothing about all of the horrors inflicted against the Palestinian people. He has backed Israel on several occasions, verbally, saying that "the state of Israel has the right to defend itself." The U.S. before and during Barack Obama's presidency also has continued to provide economic and military aid to Israel, and this will only continue during Obama's next term. We have to look at the facts squarely in the face and in their proper context. What's going on here is nothing more than U.S. imperialism along with Israel continuing to protect its interests, expanding its sphere of influence, and trying to consolidate control over a Middle East that they feel is getting out of control, with Islamic fundamentalism taking hold amongst many of the Arab youth. Capitalism-imperialism, and Islamic fundamentalism are both outmoded and as a framework are nothing but horrors for the masses of people, and need to be entirely swept away if we are going to get to a world free of all oppression and exploitation. But let's get this clear. Imperialism has been the dominant means of devastation overwhelmingly in the world, and Barack Obama is at the helm. Islamic fundamentalism would not even have as much of a current in the Middle East had it not been for U.S. imperialist action and intervention.

Lupe Fiasco Performing Words I Never Said

Lupe Fiasco performed courageously at the Start Up Rock On (SURO) concert to celebrate Obama's second inauguration. He performed "Words I Never Said." He rapped: "Limbaugh is a racist / Glenn Beck is a racist / Gaza Strip was getting bombed / Obama didn't say shit / That's why I ain't vote for him / The next one neither."

The trend I have been seeing which was even more exposed by the backlash against Lupe Fiasco, has been the uncritical support for Barack Obama during his first four years as president up to now. Anyone who comes out to speak any truth about the reality about Barack Obama, and the system he presides over, even if the criticism is not that articulate or developed is immediately attacked and isolated. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for example have even been labeled "uncle Tom's" by comedian, and now talk show host, Steve Harvey. This is actually turning reality on its head. It is outrageous quite frankly. The fact that people can get away with saying things like this without being called out is ridiculous. Let's actually take a step back for a moment here and look at this more fully. First off the exploitation and oppression of Black people in this country lies in its foundation and continues up till today. The feelings that the masses of Black people felt when Barack Obama became president had some real meaning after the long night of oppression imposed upon Black people. There was the feeling that anyone could make it under this system now. There were no more excuses. I can't count how many times I've heard that tired old phrase.

If we are going to see things as they really are, then we are going to have to get into what Barack Obama's presidency has actually meant for Black people, and what is this system that he is the Commander and Chief of. First off, the sentiment felt around the country was that this presidency would inspire Black youth to take "personal responsibility" and achieve the "American Dream" that so many had hoped for. Well this ran right up against its limits. Unemployment for Black youth at an all-time high due to lack of decent employment opportunities. Blacks still locked in the ghettos and slums set out to battle each other on a regular basis. 900,000 Black men along with a quickly growing number of women in prison. Police murder. Hundreds of thousands stopped and frisked every year in New York City alone. The majority of them never doing anything wrong in the first place. This is what sociologist Michelle Alexander so correctly pointed out as the New Jim Crow, and what Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party describes as a slow genocide that can turn into a fast one, that we are being conditioned to accept.

Barack Obama has never come out and said anything about these devastating conditions. Instead he has used his platform to tell Black youth that they need to pick their pants up. Take personal responsibility. Be fathers to their children. Blaming the masses of Black people for their conditions that are not of their own making, but rise out of the very system that he presides over. Reinforcing the idea that if you are living under these desperate conditions then it's your own damn fault. There are those that would say to this, that he is the president of the United States, he can't put Black people as a priority. Well let me say this. If there were any other country doing this to a whole section of people, people rightfully so would be outraged crying aloud that this is a serious violation of human rights, and something needs to be done about this. To be honest these conditions demand that this be met as a priority, but they never will under this system. Look, Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America, which is capitalist-imperialist. This is a system that puts profit over people. Things are socially produced on a worldwide scale, and then the wealth is appropriated to the hands of a few. The need to exploit people more ruthlessly for more profit compels those capitalists in competition with each other to go to other countries, mainly in the third world, and pay people far less than they can in this country. Through all of the Presidents in this country's history, nothing has ever changed the way this works fundamentally, and under this system it never will.

What I just described about the functioning of this system ties directly into the oppression of Black people which has been at the foundation and a cornerstone of this country. This system, at a certain point not being able to exploit Blacks as profitably, took their factories and other forms of employment that used to be available to Blacks out of the country and left many Blacks to be of no use to this system anymore. The result is that the majority are locked into the ghettos with no way out facing all the horrors of these conditions, while some Blacks, relatively few compared to the number of those locked in the slums and prisons of this country, are in the middle class. The ruling class of elites have cleverly used all of this, along with the presidency of Barack Obama to say that it's your fault if you've been living under these conditions, catering to Black middle class feelings and aspirations, reinforcing the idea that Blacks have achieved full equality, and the whole "I made it and you didn't" mentality. This ruling class has used this to make far too much of the Black middle class embrace American chauvinism and exceptionalism. This has very dangerous consequences for those trapped at the bottom.

Now the fact of the matter is that the monumental problems that plague this society as a matter of fact are a product of this very system that puts the blame on people for those conditions, and that needs to be fully swept away if we are going to get beyond all this. This means we need a REVOLUTION! to deal with all of these problems at their root and to dig out the vestiges of this system whose time is up. More specifically we need the new synthesis of communism, developed by Bob Avakian, the chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has re-envisioned communism. He has looked at its history, the great achievements and errors that have been made, and has figured out how we can do much better the next time the people have power over society.

Artists like Lupe Fiasco should be supported and encouraged when they take the stand that they do, boldly calling out this system and who is leading it at any given time. We desperately need more artists that are breaking out of the confines and taking bold stands like this. It is a part of people fighting back, and can lead people to raise their sights, and see the true nature of this decadent and utterly worthless system.

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