This Week in Hype Special Edition: Ferguson & The Value of Human Life
On Monday morning I was planning on talking about the anniversary of Kendrick's "Control" verse, or maybe Kanye's "All Day", on this week's podcast. Then, on Monday afternoon, word of Robin Williams' death covered the internet and I began thinking about doing a podcast on the intersection between creativity, addiction and depression.
Then, on Tuesday, protests surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Missouri police officer began to dominate headlines and I began to wrestle with how - or if - to address it on these pages. DJBooth is first and foremost a music site, should we be covering the tear gassed streets Ferguson at all? If so, do I really have anything to add when so many are already doing excellent coverage and commentary? I refuse to capitalize on tragedy for pageviews. Particularly as a white man, if I was going to write something about Ferguson, I had to feel like that I was adding a meaningful voice to the conversation. I wasn't sure I could add that voice. I'm still not.
At the same time, it seemed ridiculously ignorant and willfully blind to make jokes about French Montana and talk about Kanye leaks while one of the largest civil uprisings of the last few years was happening, when a police force who seemed to view Americans citizens as enemy combatants were essentially waging war on the people is should be protecting, when every conversation I was having offline inevitably lead back to Ferguson, when looking at the faces of Michael Brown's parents brought tears to my eyes. In the face of all that pain, how could I continue to stay silent?
This podcast is my hesitant attempt to answer that question. Listening back to it, I'm still unsure if have any real place using this platform, a platform built on music coverage, to talk about Ferguson. But ultimately, as Killer Mike pointed out much more powerfully, beneath these complicated issues of police brutality and race and economy and politics, at the most fundamental level, are real people. Real human beings with hopes and fears and strengths and weaknesses and children and mothers who are being killed. And maybe our only real hope of stopping these killings is to collectively recognize our shared humanity. As a human being, I mourn the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Shamiya Adams and Trayvon Martin and anyone else who loses their life to violence.
This is me, a human, attempting to publicly value human life in the face of dehumanizing conditions. Or maybe it's just a guy naively and ineffectually talking on the internet for 30 minutes. Probably both. In the face of such monumental loss it feels like nothing, but right now, it also feels like all I have to offer.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]