Ray Jasper is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas. From death row, he wrote a strong piece on his impending death and the practice of state killing. I appreciate the juxtaposition he paints about race. Referencing a passage by Lisa Maxwell, Jasper explains:
Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom.
Again, I’m not playing the race card, but empathy is putting the shoe on the other foot.
via A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed.
If the people in Texas is going to kill this dude, the least I can do is read his letter.
I like this article on anti-gay language in hip hop (although the title seems unnecessary). The above graphic is from the much hated rapgenius.com (not affiliated with the GZA). But the graphic was included in a nice long write up on Gawker by Rich Juzwiak where he does some lyrical analysis. While discussing a Frank Ocean lyric Juzwiak writes:
“This is a conversation that hasn’t made its way to mainstream hip-hop before now. It’s probably not as tidy as the most sensitive listeners would prefer. There’s ambiguity there as to whether Ocean’s proposed gunplay is a reaction to homophobia (because saying “faggot” is wrong) or an insult (because being “faggot” is wrong). Ocean is typically terse and selective on these identity matters—it’s possible that he’s still working out this question himself.”
When talking about the number of hit records that seemed to have made it without needing verbal violence toward gay people, Juzwiak explains:
“Hip-hop doesn’t hate gay people. Not all of it, at least. Even when it stumbles in these attempts, even when rappers don’t exhibit the full enlightenment that we’d want from them (Too $hort: “Just go with it, it’s just a lifestyle, you know, so whatever“), it’s still making attempts at engagement, which is more than it was doing even last year and far more than it was doing two years ago.
Still, we’re talking about a vast, varied pool of points of view and opinions. There’s still plenty of homophobic language.”
Here is the link to the article.