From the Rodney King beating in 1991 to 2008’s tragic shooting death of Sean Bell [click to read], many of the calls from the Hip Hop community to end racial profiling by various police departments have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. Songs such as NWA‘s “Fuck The Police” and “Police State” by dead prez have chronicled the long history of racial profiling and police harassment experienced in many communities. And while the thought of having an Officer In Chief who name checks Kanye West and Jay-Z [click to read], as well as other Hip Hop artists is represents a change from the Bush Administration, Wednesday night may have marked the first admission from the White House that America’s police forces target a disproportionate amount of African Americans and Latinos.
While answering a question posed by Chicago Sun-Times writer Lynn Sweet, President Obama gave his thoughts about the recent arrest of Harvard professor and noted author Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that,” President Obama said. “But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”
A number of Hip Hop artists came out in strong support of President Obama both before and during his election last November [click to read]. The rocky relationship between law enforcement and many artists has been well documented. Much like last year’s presidential election, HipHopDX will make efforts to poll members of the Hip Hop community to see if statements similar to the ones President Obama made Wednesday echo the sentiments of Killer Mike included below.
“So I think Hip Hop has a significant slice [of credit for Obama’s victory] because Hip Hop exposed us to one another before politics did. Hip Hop has done wonders in terms of breaking down the false walls of racial differences in this country. It’s brought us in big part to this point. Thank God for the art form of Hip Hop.”