Recently Atlanta rapper Clifford Harris, known to most as T.I., responded to a tweet by President Trump in a way that can only be described as obscene. President Trump complained about a music video for Snoop Dogg’s new song “Lavender” which shows Snoop shooting a toy gun at a clown with striking resemblance to President Trump. President Trump took to twitter to express his outrage.
After reading President Trumps thoughts on Snoop Dogg’s 25-year career in the entertainment industry, Atlanta rapper T.I. decided to respond in true rapper fashion. The profanity-filled tweet went far beyond 140 characters. As a longtime fan of both artist, first I clutched my imaginary pearls and then I laughed. The alliteration was pretty impressive but my gut tells me that T.I. didn’t get out everything he had to say.
As difficult as it is for me to admit it, after thinking about Trump’s tweet, I realized he was right. What if an artist as popular as Snoop had pointed a gun at the head of President Obama in an imaginary video? I can imagine me walking arm in arm with Congressman John Lewis as we chained ourselves to the executive offices of said artist’s label.
As for T.I., I pass no “shade” because I certainly do not want to be on the wrong side of his twitter fingers. However, I wonder, is this where we want to take our rhetoric? If President Trump never tags another rapper in his tweets then we may be able to presume that Trump knows when he has met his match.
An insult or comment with subtle disrespect towards an individual.
It is true that President Obama received disrespect at a level worse than we have seen in modern years -- that is until President Trump took office. The level of disrespect is ratcheting up daily. I do not imagine it receding anytime soon. It is true that Donald Trump, as a candidate and the President, has been vile and venomous on social media to various individuals, cultures, and Americans in general. However, you and I both know whose voice is ringing in our ears. Mrs. Obama told us before we knew the outcome of the election how to handle a bully. “Our motto is when they go low, we go high.”
I admit I am guilty of it too. I often comment on the sanity, the orange hue of his skin, and the ridiculous alternative-facts of the current President. However, I wonder if the rapper’s profanity laced tweet and Snoops violent imagery is a sign we have gone a bit too far. What if Senators Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, or Kamala Harris take over in 2020? Do we really want to excuse this language now as if it were normal only to become hypocrites in four years?
Maybe I can “be easy” like T.I. suggests if our children and teens didn’t have such easy access to these twitter battles. However, now that the Billy Bush tapes played on repetitive loops during the election, even the mainstream news channels are toxic for kids. As tempting as it is to discuss “who started it first” or “who did it worse” we can’t forget he is the President of the United States.
It’s probably worth heeding Michelle Obama’s advice. Particularly since we know President Trump is masterful when it comes to making everyone else look like a fool for displaying the exact same behaviors he displays daily. One by one, he picked off each of the GOP’s potential nominees for President with brash insults. Yet when Marco Rubio made a failed attempt to “throw shade” at Trump’s “small hands” it went horribly wrong. To avoid getting “Rubio-ed” we can’t stoop to the President’s level.
If it is possible to press the reset button, I sure would like to hit it as hard as I can, because I’m afraid of where our Country is headed. Aside from xenophobic policies, healthcare that will make insurance companies rich, and the inability to trust anything the President of the free world says, we are responsible for ensuring the civility of our Country is not going in the direction. A good place to start would be to think, what would “the Donald” say in this moment … then say the opposite.
Even when it is funny, if we all were to put out messages like these rappers, after we share it on social media, we should consider our personal role in the degradation of our Country. When they go low, grabb’em by …. the kindest words you can conjure in that moment.
LaDawn “LBJ” Jones is a criminal defense attorney, former State Representative, and hip-hop fan.