I reali ze that so many of us have forgo tten just how shook up we were on Septe mber 11th 2001. So many of us forgo t how we initi ally thoug ht up to 50 thous and peopl e have died when those tower s colla psed and for the most part the world came to a stand still on that sunny day in Septe mber. In many peopl e’s minds , what took place was beyon d compr ehens ible. How could this happe n? How could this happe n on our soil? Those were the quest ions so many of us asked ? I’m still not sure if they’ ve been fully answe red to this day.
I remem ber short ly after 9-11 it led to peopl e going all out and showi ng compa ssion to one anoth er as so many of us at least for a brief momen t were remin ded that no one is promi sed tomor row and that it was impor tant to take some time out, be patie nt and show kindn ess. For weeks and even month s after the trage dy, you could still smell the smoke throu ghout New York and it wasn’ t unusu al to see someb ody just break down and start cryin g in the middl e of the stree ts. Peopl e seeme d to under stand and would show love and conce rn.
I remem ber going down to Groun d Zero for the first time in early Novem ber. It was at night and seeme d so eerie . The punge nt oder, the mammo th piece s of twist ed metal , the empti ness of that area was somet hing you could never forge t. If you were from New York then you reall y felt it becau se the WTC was such a fixtu re not just to our skyli ne but also to what we many of us envis ioned when you said New York.
Septe mber 11 was so traum atizi ng for folks , that I saw harde ned thugs shari ng kind words and huggi ng cops who lost many of their own that day.
Even with the ghost of an unarm ed Amado u Diall o and 41 shots just two or three years behin d them peopl e still reach ed out and showe d love. I saw Ameri can flags being waved from rooft ops and windo ws from hood to the burbs and not becau se we all found some sort xenop hobic Ameri can pride , but becau se that flag was the only thing we had that symbo lized our colle ctive desir e to conne ct to one anoth er.
I recal l short ly after 9-11 the Hip Hop commu nity comin g out.
We had Dr Dre donat ing one milli on dolla rs to the victi ms relie f fund.
He and Emine m were worki ng on a song that broug ht heat to Osama Bin Laden . In fact I recal l Dre being on Fox 5 in New York spitt ing some incen diary lyric s. The song never came out. I’m not quite sure why.
I recal l the Hip Hop has a Heart progr am they had on Hot 97 where all sorts of artis ts from Wu- Tang on down gave lots of money .
I recal l Wu- Tang donat ing money .
I recal l Naugh ty By Natur e doing a fundr aiser for the famil ies of slain firef ighte rs at Rosel and.
I recal l Jay-Z wrapp ing himse lf up in the flag and takin g a pictu re while MC Hamme r did a song for the troop s.
I recal l Canib us deman ding that he be draft ed to go fight . he later went and volun teere d. I recal l cats weari ng red, white and blue doo rags talki ng about they’ re thugg ing for Ameri ca.
I also recal l artis ts like Mr Lif, J- Live, Jahi and the Life and so many other s who spark ed off songs about 9-11.
I recal l Jerma ine Dupri and a numbe r of other artis ts inclu ding Chris tina Aguli era, Quest love, the Backs treet Boys, Mary J, Blige, Bono, Desti ny’s Child, Fred Durst, Eve, Nelly Furta do, Nona Gaye ( Marvi n’s daugh ter) , Ja Rule, Wycle f Jean, Alici a Keys, Aaron Lewis (of Stain d), Lil’ Kim, Jenni fer Lopez, Nas, Nelly, NSYNC,
Diddy, Britn ey Spear s and Gwen Stefa ni just to name a few, had did a remak e of Marvi n Gaye‘s class ic jam song ‘What’ s Going On?‘. The song was inten ded to bring atten tion to Aids in Afric a, and had just been compl eted a few days befor e 9-11.
Anoth er verse was added and the song then went out to aid the famil ies of the 9-11
There were singl e moms, broth ers who were just barel y makin g it, elder ly Puert o Rican s, Asian folks , disab led, Nativ e Ameri cans, gays, strai ghts and peopl e from diffe rent count ries from Cuba to Canad a to China and all aroun d the world who all died in those tower s and on those jets that crash ed into the Penta gon and that field in Penns ylvan ia My home boy’ s elder ly Puert o Rican uncle peris hed that day, unfor tunat ely his tale never makes the TV speci als- proba bly becau se he didn’ t work at a fancy law firm nor fit the bill of the type of perso n who needs to be showc ased to satis fy so calle d Middl e Ameri can viewe rs.
Hell, let’ s be hones t- seven years after 9- 11, it has becom e a mass media event desig ned to satis fy the misgu ided whims of socce r now turne d ‘ hocke y’ moms who want us all weari ng flag pins. Heali ng and comin g to terms with those real life losse s isn’ t reall y on the table . Groun d Zero is not grave site, which inter estin gly enoug h is built upon a slave grave site, but inste ad its now becom e a manda ted polit ical pit stop for high profi le polit ician s seeki ng to show the world just how ‘ Ameri can’ they are.
Today as we comme morat e the 7th anniv ersar y, senat ors Barac k Obama and John McCai n will show up to Groun d Zero this after noon and try to look presi denti al. They’ re gonna stand there and look all sombe r and try to show conce rn when reall y their visit is just one big photo op.
They say they are putti ng all polit ics aside for today , but their visit is nothi ng but polit ical. Sure they may not snipe at one anoth er, but they are only there to woo the peopl e.
I have to raise the quest ion were any of those men out and about touch ing lives befor e today ‘s 9-11 event ? Did they show up in years past to this grave site to show their compa ssion ? Have they ever calle d any of the famil ies outsi de of today ‘s festi vitie s just to offer a sooth ing word, a helpi ng hand or to simpl y say that their conce rn goes beyon d polit ics or is their appea rance desig ned to satis fy peopl e who weren ‘t reall y victi ms but someh ow wanna ‘own and redef ine 9-11?
I guess the word is out that if you play your cards right an appea rance at Groun d Zero can do wonde rs for your polit ical caree r.
Just ask Georg e Bush and forme r NY Mayor Rudy Giuli ani.
I’m still wonde ring how a day that was so tragi c for so many got pimpe d to the point that an unpop ular presi dent who still had peopl e salty at him for steal ing an elect ion just 9 month s earli er and an even more unpop ular mayor who was on his way to his polit ical grave , manag ed to becom e the sole faces of it.
When 9-11 comes aroun d I never ever forge t how those two uncar ing men came aroun d and used their posit ion and influ ence for polit ical and mater ial gain. The forme r New York mayor has a popul ar inter natio nal consu lting firm where he shows other count ries like El Salva dor the types of steps they need to take to fight terro rism.
In the case of Georg e Bush can we say Iraq? 9-11 was his long await ed excus e to go wage war in the middl e east. No matte r what the so calle d media pundi ts and exper ts espou se, I am convi nced that man at the very least , had prior knowl edge.
Like Jadak iss said in his song ‘Bush knock ed down the tower s‘.
Am I the only one who recal ls then San Franc isco Mayor Willi e Brown stati ng durin g an inter view that he had been warne d not to fly that day?
Bay Area artis ts Paris who was among the first to do a song calli ng out the Bush and his Neo- Con frien ds withi n PNAC (Proje ct for the New Ameri can Centu ry) for the role they playe d in 9-11.
He pains takin gly noted in his landm ark song ‘What Would You Do?‘, how Bush and compa ny were hopin g for a Pearl Harbo r- like event and used 9-11 to carry out their game plan to exude globa l milit ary influ ence aroun d the world . The War in Iraq was first on the list.
We need to remem ber that when we think of 9-11.
We need to never forge t how Bush and his croni es playe d upon every one’ s emoti ons short ly after 9-11 and took peopl e’s desir e to conne ct and our colle ctive anxio usnes s and flipp ed it into a polit ical witch hunt. I remem ber vivid ly how every one’ s patri otism was sudde nly calle d into quest ion espec ially if you were in media , an artis ts, a profe ssor or speak ing from the pulpi t. If you raise d quest ioned there were polit ical attac k dogs on you..
If you was in media and you spoke out calls were made and press ure was put on those who owned those outle ts to eithe r silen ce you or let you go.
I know I fell victi m to it at Clear Chann el, Comed ian Bill Maher fell victi m to it with his show Polit icall y Incor rect on ABC.
Profe ssor Ward Churc hill was fired from his post in Denve r just last year becau se of his remar ks aroun d 9-11.
San Franc isco Pasto r and forme r SF Super visor Amos Brown caugh t all kinds of hell when he dared raise the quest ion ‘ What did we ( Ameri ca) do that 9-11 happe ned’?
He and other pasto rs inclu ding senat or Barac k Obama s‘ forme r pasto r Jerem iah Wrigh t as recen tly as April of this year caugh t hell for speak ing out and raisi ng quest ions about 9-11.
There were two newsp aper colum nist who were hound ed out of their jobs by right wing Bushi tes when they wrote unfav orabl e colum ns.
Hell I even recal l the host of Rap City getti ng mad at Chuck D for raisi ng quest ions about 9- 11. The list is along one for peopl e who caugh t hell.
We shoul d never forge t the vicio usnes s that was direc ted at Oakla nd Congr esswo man Barba ra Lee who days after 9-11 was the only one with enoug h sense and coura ge to say ‘No’ to Georg e Bush when he asked for a what amoun ted to a blank check to fight the this new War on Terro r.
I remem ber how Boots and the Coup came under fire becau se their album cover which was relea sed 6 month s prior to 9-11 showe d the World Trade being blown up.
The press ure to confo rm and heed Bush’ s asser tion ‘ eithe r your for us or again st us’ was hard for many espec ially those who talke d to the masse s to stand up to.
I remem ber atten ding a rally in Snow Park in Oakla nd the day after 9-11.
It was put on by the folks from Lets Get Free which was desig ned to call atten tion to all the Musli ms and Arab broth ers and siste rs who were sudde nly catch ing hell becau se of the trage dy.
I remem ber one of the organ izer Jaman i raisi ng quest ions about our forei gn polic y decis ions and wheth er or not it led to the attac ks. I remem ber the issue was raise d about our refus al to atten d the racis m summi t in Durbo n South Afric a which was just days befor e the 9-11 trage dy and how that came acros s as us being arrog ant.
I recal l Micha el Frant i and the late poet June Jorda n doing heart felt poems and songs that calle d upon us to keep our human ity in check . Even thoug h 9-11 had just happe ned, Frant i noted how he could feel the press ure to reall y morph this into somet hing that would have long term polit ical impli catio ns. As for Jorda n, it was sadly the last time I would see or hear her do a piece . She died a few month s later .
There are lots of thing s to remem ber about 9- 11. There were a lot of peopl e who needl essly suffe red that day. There was alot of polit ical manip ulati on that took place in the after math. There are those who have done their best to make us forge t what this day is reall y about .
By smili ng and repea ting a lie over and over and over again until it becom es truth , 9-11 went from being a day in which were humbl ed and came back showi ng a bit more conce rn and passi on to being a tool for propa ganda and rally ing tool for war monge rs. There were lives lost that day, lets not lose sight of that. Lets make sure those who suffe red are heale d.
The views expressed in this message are, unless otherwise stated, those of the author hereof and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Hip Hop Political Convention.