Kemba Argues a New Black Theory While Still Seeking Answers (Video)
As with any social-justice movement, there are cultural takeaways that come to represent the modern-day civil rights movement in searingly visual ways. For generations past, images of police dogs, water hoses, and segregated water fountains are markers signifying a time and place during which struggle for equality was forcibly constricted by the system in place. In their shadows today loom similarly powerful iconography, from the “I can’t breathe” mantra emblazoned across social-media posts to the hoodie – the piece of clothing Trayvon Martin was wearing when killed by George Zimmerman. In the wake of his death, mourners, marchers, and celebrities began to wear the ubiquitous item of clothing in a sign of solidarity, and it became a talking point throughout the criminal proceedings. But its presence in contemporary rhetoric did not end with Zimmerman’s acquittal, and is in fact one of the conceptual seeds from which the Bronx, New York, MC Kemba’s (f/k/a YC the Cynic) latest video grows.
“The New Black Theory” is a Hip-Hop dirge that sorrowfully examines the way Black Americans suffer at the hands of the sort of hopelessness cultivated in a society which makes liberation virtually impossible. Its video stars a young man of color whose self identity is repeatedly confused by the punditry emanating from the media, in this particular case Geraldo Rivera. Rivera made headlines for what critics said was blaming Martin’s death on his style of clothing. But, as Kemba mentions in the lyrics, there have been cases in which baggy pants or oversized hoodies are absent. As the video seems to argue it appears that, regardless of fashion choice, Black Americans are routinely targeted – so what gives? It is within the framework of that question that the Theory emerges. But it isn’t just an examination of how people of color are treated by external positions and people of authority – it’s also a reflection on internalized racism, which can be seen in the choice of Raven Symoné as the single’s official artwork.
“The New Black Theory” can be heard on Kemba’s forthcoming album Negus, set to drop July 22.