The recent federal indictment of young rap artist, Takashi69 demonstrates the glorification of the violence subsequently produced by extreme urban poverty. The narrative of Takashi69 counter parallels the traditional life trajectory of rap artists that typically employ the creativity of rap lyrics to express the struggles of urban poverty whereas Takashi69 increasingly employed gang association and violence to validate the imaginary persona created by his rap lyrics.
This level of psuedo street violence is not a novel phenomenon. Several rap artists such as Grammy award winners Drake and Rick Ross have been scrutinized for the cultural appropriation of Black poverty. When rappers profit off lyrics that falsely reflect a life of urban poverty unlived, they highlight the reward of crime while silencing the risk of incarceration.
On the surface level and on a deeper level Takashi69 is no different than Meek Mill. Meek Mill now 31 years old is nearly a decade older than Tekashi 22. Both men have been impacted by urban poverty and crime, one is at the pre-trial stage and the other is post-conviction. On the surface (media level) and deeply (human) level the two men are the same and inherently worthy of the same advocacy. However, on an intermediate level, the two are dissimilar.
As an organization we work tirelessly to break the tiny box(es) our clients are placed into. When celebrity individuals voluntarily draw an imaginary box then place themselves into the box it undermines the credibility of those that make survival decisions out of necessity v.s. economic exploitation. I am compassionate regarding circumstantial violence but am admittedly judgmental against violence for sport. Sport violence, particularly urban sport violence that evokes the long term depression of minority men for the short term euphoria of wealthy men is the abusive employment of human vulnerability.
In retrospect, hurt people, hurt, people. Daniel testifies that his Dad was murdered and being raised by a single mother in Bushwick, Brooklyn negatively affected him. To believe in prison abolition is to believe everyone is legitimately hurting and thus worthy and capable of healing.
Takashi69 bothers me because I perceive him as divesting compassion, attention, energy, resources from truly disenfranchised system impacted persons to himself, someone who strategically designed and pursued street credibility with the aim of appearing system impacted. Nonetheless, Takashi69, being held without bail is equally worthy of sentiment. His alleged actions (robbery, assault, gang affiliation) do not validate remand. Takashi is being ultra-punished for using his personal wealth to bring public glory to system impacted urban Black men.
Takashi69 is a personal growth opportunity. All actions from petty theft to serial murder are worthy of forgiveness. In working through my disappointment I can move on to establishing new expectations of post release rehabilitation configured in fresh hope.