In a recent interview, rapper “Future” a.k.a. Future Hendrix revealed that despite his constant personal references to getting high and being “codeine crazy”, he is not a habitual user of drugs. Let me first say that “this is good.” Too many artists depend on weed, alcohol, pills and “lean” to put them in the zone of creativity. However, it’s outlandish that someone as influential and musically gifted as Future would promote drug use in his lyrics when he, himself, knows enough to stay away from them. Drugs is a $15 billion dollar a year industry in America and needs no free promos from rappers. Such is the tragedy of Black genius. Too often, everyone benefits from it…except Black people.
The term “genius” is rooted in the word “genetics.” This suggests that everyone who is considered a genius must take into account their genetic makeup and the role it plays in the mastery of their chosen craft. It’s no coincidence that Floyd Mayweather’s father was a professional fighter, along with two of his uncles. And, YES, Floyd Mayweather is definitely a boxing genius. The point I’m making is that no individual becomes great by themselves. Greatness is in the genetic makeup of the original Black people of the Earth. And since, no one becomes a genius without help, shouldn’t the people that give birth to such greatness benefit from what they produce?
Kwame Nkrumah, the former president of Ghana, was educated in the United States of America. Once he received his degrees he took his learning back to Africa and used it to better the condition of his people. It is natural for a person to use his knowledge, talent, skill, influence and wealth to uplift the very people that produced him. Everyone uses their genius to the benefit of their own nation, family and community. We must take a page from this principle of life and stop aiding and abetting the enemies of our rise in the name of making a dollar.
For instance, we empower celebrities like Jay-Z, Beyonce’, Michael Jordan, Rick Ross and others. And I don’t doubt that they have done much for many in the Black community. I choose to believe that. However, once we’ve helped to make them household names, they are employed by major corporations who use their likeness to come back to the community that made them to sell us products that sometimes don’t benefit us nor or future. And all of a sudden Black genius is being used to sell White products while small Black businesses with integrity can’t get these celebrities to stop by and use the toilet, let alone give them a short commercial or a mention. This is the tragedy of Black genius.
Black genius is likened to seaweed at the bottom of the ocean. Once a weed breaks free from the bottom, it begins to rise. The higher it rises, the further it is carried away with the tide. Pretty soon, it’s so far away that the possibility of it reconnecting with the bottom is slim to none.
All genius must be reconnected to the community that produced it. What good does it do for us to empower Black celebrities if all they’re going to do is turn around and sell us Apple products? How many of our great minds are buried in corporate America? How many of our most powerful intellectuals are stuck in White universities teaching other children to take over the world? How many of our entertainers are controlled by White-owned labels that dictate to them what to say and what to play. Future is basically making the music that his label approves of. Does it matter that he is misleading a generation with some of his lyrics?
We must identify the gifted ones in our midst and teach them early on the importance of becoming a success and using the power of that success to benefit your people. When we spot Black genius we must cultivate it and protect it from the many forces that wish to exploit it and use it to further exploit us. I mean, look at Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye and countless others. Their genius was used to make others wealthy while most of our entertainers die broke. Once they’ve gotten the best out of our brightest stars, they usually send them back to us: that is, if they survive.
We must also unify to make reasonable demands on those individuals that we empower. If you can team up with these major corporations to sell us these products that we don’t need, you can use the power of your celebrity to empower some of our Black-owned institutions (like the Forward Times Newspaper) that we do need. There is too much tragedy associated with Black genius. The only greater tragedy would be if we allowed it to stay this way.