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Should Institutions Accept Charity from Rapper T.I.?

June 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) I write this letter to the public in an attempt to provoke critical thought and in so doing possibly raise the level of discourse in relation to the matters and circumstances that affect the lives of African Americans and ultimately the world. Of the latest goings on in Atlanta a great deal of attention has been given to the troubled but ever resilient Atlanta born rapper T.I. However, the latest round of attention has focused not directly on the recent charges leveled against him (T.I. has been charged with possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, as well as possession of firearms by a convicted felon.) but instead his most recent charitable efforts.

Shortly before Thanksgiving Day, rapper T.I. helped raise 150,000.00 for the Hosea Williams Feed the Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner Event and donated four hundred Turkeys to the Atlanta Parks and Recreation center to be distributed to Atlanta families. As a result of T.I.’s most recent philanthropic pursuits much discourse has been generated over the merits of these efforts from a man seemingly perpetually engaged in behaviors that not only serve to destroy him, but quite possibly the fabric of African American culture as well.

Rapper T.I. a multi-platinum selling artist has crafted an extremely successful career in the music industry through creating songs containing brash lyrics that promote the notion that harming others through violent means, earning money through the illegal drug trade and dehumanizing women through his continued references to females as the “B-word’ and “H-word” are completely acceptable modes of conduct. As is the case of most rap artists of today, T.I.’s listening audience is largely comprised of teenagers and young adults who in most instances are quite impressionable. Not only are the messages (served over aggressive beats) delivered by T.I. dangerous and subsequently problematic for his listening audience, but also too is his personal behavior as evidenced by his legal woes. With all of T.I.’s pervasive dysfunctional behaviors (musical and otherwise) which can only serve to undermine any and all efforts to resurrect and redeem the many struggling African Americans communities in this nation one question must be asked. Should private and public institutions that are engaged in serving the public (especially African American populations) accept charitable offerings from T.I.?

The answer to this question may seemingly be obscured by a common belief that money and related resources can help to strengthen a community in need of support regardless of the source. This notion is however inherently flawed, especially in this instance. To accept monies and resources from an individual or institution that is actively engaged in activities that ultimately destroy the good will and solidarity of the members of a community, is to give power to the source itself. In the case of T.I., the genocidal messages contained in his music and his personal life style, work in concert to subtlety (and not so subtlety in some instances) influence and ultimately erode the character of his many young admirers. If institutions accept charity from T.I. they only help to reaffirm and strengthen the power with which he uses to confuse and mislead the most vulnerable members of our community – our children.

A second flaw inherent in the “all money is good money” ethos is that this approach takes away a peoples’ greatest weapon against immorality; morality as expressed through moral authority. If an institution accepts the charitable offerings of T.I. for the purposes of helping a community, that institution and community indirectly send the message to the source that his behavior is acceptable as long as others benefit from it in some way. This notion however is patently false, as it renders those members of the community essentially voiceless against the immoral acts of others as a result of the communities’ surrendering of its moral authority. This circumstance tends to prevail even for those members of the community who do not subscribe to the “all money is good money” line of reasoning. In order to effectively check the immoral and divisive acts of an individual or institution a people must speak from a position of moral authority. If such a position is not able to be assumed, a people can never establish a truly valid argument that would oppose immorality and its multiple expressions, and subsequently can never be taken seriously.

If we as a people are to circumvent and or better still defeat the acts of individuals or institutions that ill affect our communities, we must not strengthen our opponent and must speak from a moral high ground. For these reasons we must say no to the charitable offerings of T.I.!

Written By Frederick Alexander Meade

Frederick Alexander Meade is an educator and journalist providing analysis on social and political matters. His works have appeared in news magazines and publications around the country. To read more articles written by Meade go to http://www.fredmeade.blogspot.com


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