Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No "Common" Sense at White House Event

The White House billed their “Evening of Poetry” event as a celebration of poetry and the power of spoken word. By inviting rapper Common, what they celebrated instead was violence, misogyny, and cop killings.

Part of Michelle Obama's White House Music Series, Common recited some lines from his poetry amidst piano accompaniment in front of the audience of children and adults. According to ABC News, he’s fairly tame as rappers go and was on his best behavior at the White House. “He opened his performance with cuts of words from Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke of walking into the White House with ‘love on my sleeve.’ His performance gave nods to the challenges of crime and violence that face children, to gangsters and beacons of light for those in dark alleys, and celebrated the rise of Barack Obama. It ended with "one King's dream, he was able to Barack us."

He gave a nod to gangsters? He considers them “beacons of light?”

Common's lyrics and recent White House invitation have also enraged members of the police force, particularly the New Jersey State Police. On the track "A Song for Assata" from 11 years ago Common praised a fugitive convicted of brutally murdering a state trooper in 1973: “Shot twice wit her hands up/Police questioned but shot before she answered/One Panther lost his life, the other ran for his/Scandalous the police were as they kicked and beat her.”

That’s Common’s version of it, anyway. From time to time, I’ve written about cops. Some have spent time in their communities educating teenage drivers on the dangers of driving while distracted or drunk. Some have volunteered their time at bike rodeos and Child ID events. Yet others have taught parents about safety seats.

There was also the Pittsburgh police officer who was shot by a man laying in ambush for him, wearing a bullet proof vest amidst an arsenal of weapons. The story went national, not just within my company, but “national” as in national news. After writing Officer Mayhle’s story (several times), I am completely offended that a street hood known for elegy for a cop-killer would be invited to the White House, a mansion my taxpayer dollars support. I’m offended at the message his appearance, casually “laughed off”, sends to young people. During Police Week, no less.

David Jones, the president of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association was one to speak out against Common's inclusion at the event. Noting that the event falls during “Police Week” in Washington, D.C., Jones objected to Common's inclusion at the White House on Fox News' “The O'Reilly Factor.”

So this is the White House’s idea of poetry? Music? Culture? This is what has happened to the White House since Jackie Kennedy’s elegant and historically-themed overhaul of the Executive Mansion? We’ve descended, it seems, into a second Dark Age of Ignorance.


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