A Teachable Moment for Barack Obama and Lupe Fiasco

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Upper Marlboro educator sees benefit of rapper’s controversial comments

To hear Lupe Fiasco criticize the American voting system and call Barack Obama a terrorist was extremely shocking at first. Then I realized my shock was in vain, as Fiasco has proven himself thoughtful during a five-year career as one of hip-hop’s most reflective emcees.

I study his music, so I am pretty sure his comments weren’t offered merely for publicity. Still, when Lupe spoke, his body language was assertive, honest and forthright.

“My fight is against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama and the United States of America,” Fiasco said during the interview. “For me, I am trying to fight the terrorism that is causing the other forms of terrorism.”

But the American response to Lupe’s comments have been saturated with ignorance and loaded with hatred. And never mind a healthy dialogue, the public would rather rail against his so-called misunderstanding of global politics. That’s not the case. For once, a well-known hip-hop artist has used his voice to influence a healthy discourse. And while I don’t fully agree with his ideas, I admire his courage.

Most rappers would rather discuss the potency of their weed or color of their cars. They would rather exploit black women instead of building nonprofits. So, for Lupe Fiasco to step out on limb is exceptional. Sure he doesn’t vote, but to say he is any less American is foolish.

How about the fact that American politicians are too bureaucratic to alleviate the struggles of poor people?

What about our supposed “democracy” disguised as outreach to big businesses and the wealthy?

Is Lupe actually telling the truth?

The Obamas are an amazing example of a productive black family. I support President Obama almost to a fault at times because I don’t want to spread any division in our collective struggle as a people. So when I disagree with his policies, I still try to rationalize his leadership qualities. For instance, while Obama has pulled troops from Afghanistan, he approved a surge that increased the amount of troops in the country. The U.S. military has flown fighter jets over middle eastern countries for years, dropping bombs on innocent men, women and children. Is that not a terrorist?

Obama is by no means an Osama Bin Laden. But he is the president, so he must accept the realities and perceptions that come along with it. American government officials are some of the most successful terrorists to date. Ask natives about smallpox. Ask innocent slaves about rebellion. Ask black people about the MOVE bombing. And ask any black man about his abusive relationship with the police.

Lupe is committed to truth and his fearless honesty should be applauded. If more Americans sought truth instead of folding to ignorance, we wouldn’t have to wrestle with so many cultural issues. Lupe should be able to speak his mind without retribution. What’s more American than that?