Here in South Beach, we are staying at a rapper/supermodel hotel. Various Run DMC members are kicking it on the white couches, and we rode the elevator with Paris Hilton. She turned to me and said “I like your outfit.” And it was as if Mother Theresa said “You know, you are a really nice person.” Or if Einstein said, “Hey, slow down you brainiac!” She got out of the elevator and Bruce and I let out a silent scream that lasted about ten minutes. It’s an emotional week to be sure, with the passage of Robert Palmer and the beginning of our hip hop career. We are going to Nashville, which I have always considered a very laid back and cool place. I love the South for the most part. There is a gentility and warmth of the people that is genuine and comforting. Whenever they are confronted with the redneck stereotype, it is apologetically with a self deprecating posture, and a defeated liberal stance with raised shoulders – “What can you do? It’s the South.” However, there are vibrant cultural factors to this former empire that once threatened to secede that are present nowhere else, and are a testament to the idea of America and the lasting impact of oral history and tradition.
The Cuban roots of Miami make it an inviting oasis of cross cultural jamming, with fashion and music colliding in Ian Shrager hotels, as the elite bask in white linen walls and asphalt flooring in the bedrooms. New Orleans has the Haitian-French mystique, unknowable to those on the outside, who clamor every Mardi Graz and Jazz Fest for a glimpse of the magic, but they never will find it. These cities hold their secrets tight to their bosom, and the heart of the spiritual centers of these places solidly beats in their respective communities. It is a product of transplantation, plantation being the operative word.
When South Carolina had the Confederate Flag controversy, where the now for centuries obsolete flag still flew above certain government buildings, it sparked a major protest among the African American and most civil liberty organizations. They had lost the war, lost the right to keep slaves, so the casual and cavalier attitude in which the flag hung from the mast was a slap in the face of freedom and democracy. I held a different attitude then. Since when was slavery abolished? I know that there was Lincoln and the log cabin and the fourteenth amendment and all, but think about it. Slavery exists today, in America, blatant and obvious as day, but all refuse to reveal its true face. Here you go. The proportion of Black drug users and White drugs users is very telling in many statistics. The studies done so far say that only 25 % of people addicted to drugs are Black and Latino, and the majority of users are whites – making up the rest – a near 75% – of course this is neatly counting all people of color within the former group, as there are some Asians in there, and perhaps a Croatian or two, but I am just showing a broad example of what is happening. This concludes that there is a disproportion in the amount of drug arrests among people of color – which is that there is much more police surveillance happening in the areas where communities have a higher percentage of – melanin. The effect of that is more sentencing, jail time, difficulty getting back to normal life after serving time ..etc. All the while, most prisons are privatized, almost a chain. A Starfucks – if you will. They make money by lending prison labor out to different corporations, who will do their best not to let you find out who they are, but they are big ones. Let’s just say, Victoria had a big SECRET. Meanwhile, prisoners are not paid, or if they are, it is so below minimal wage, it can only be symbolic, a token of good faith, some change for cigarettes and maybe a bit of money to put off an anal rape. Anyway, this type of thing happens in all prisons, everywhere in this country, now. So don’t be blaming the South for slavery. They may have started the fire, but the flame has spread.