Originally written July 01, 2013 on BlackSportsOnline:
The piece by Jason Whitlock today on Aaron Hernandez was very well written, I encourage you to read it. In short, it blames America’s violent culture and hero worshipping of thugs for the creation of individuals like Aaron Hernandez.  Whitlock used names like Jay-Z, Tony Soprano, Scarface, Al Capone, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Moltisanti to strengthen his point that this current culture leads to people like Aaron Hernandez regardless if they are millionaires or not committing violent crimes. That is his opinion and I respect it, but I think it is off-base. When I was 13 years old, I got a hold of a Geto Boyz CD (it was actually a cassette back then).  It contained some of the most violent, sexist, disturbing lyrics in the history of the music industry.  I was in 8th grade and I listened to that tape over and over again.  I had 2 Live Crew tapes that didn’t shed women in the best light.  I grew up when Tupac and Biggie weren’t just a memory to most people. N.W.A. told me to F*ck the Police cause Ren said it with authority. I had a Scarface poster on my wall.  I was hip to Jay-Z back when he was rapping fast with Jaz-O.  Cinemax After Dark taught me a lot more about sex than middle school. I grew up on the North Side of Saint Louis, Mo.  Look at highest murder and crime rates over the last 20 years and see where STL ranks.  When DJ Quik rapped Saint Louis was “Just Like Compton” he was wrong, it was worst than Compton.  I saw the drug dealers in the nice rides and the gang members with all the pretty girls.  My cousin Steve had a Benz, like from the movie Menace to Society, with no job.  My dad lived in another state, I was raised by my mother and grandmother. According to Whitlock’s theory, I should have been brainwashed and committing violent crimes.  The violent images and overly sexual lyrics should have made me into a deviant.  I should have been a thug, a criminal, and living like Ice Cube from Boyz N Da Hood. But the reality is, while I have had my share of hard times I have my college degree.  I’m doing a job that I love and I have a stable situation with a lot of awesome family and good friends. For goodness sakes, I take photos of my dog sleep everyday and post them on social media.  I am the poster child for the middle class boring American male. How is that possible? Here is what Whitlock said about Jay-Z. Jay-Z, a rapper who glorifies his former life as a drug dealer, has far more cultural influence than LeBron James. Jay-Z is this generation’s Joe D, and Beyonce is Marilyn Monroe. Jay-Z is the new gold standard. The whole sports world played along with Jigga Man’s charade of NBA ownership. Now Kevin Durant and other athletes are flocking to Hova’s sports agency. An unrepentant, flamboyant former drug dealer has the White House, President Obama-stamped seal of approval. What I see when I look at Jay-Z is someone who outsmarted the majority.  Yes, he was a drug dealer, but there isn’t any shame in acknowledging your past as long your present is in a better place.  Jay-Z said it best. Hov is back, life stories told through rap You actin’ like I sold you crack Like I told you sell drugs…no… Hov did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that That is the real issue with Whitlock’s article, in the end regardless of what you have seen, head or lived through, you are responsible for your own decisions. I made a decision I wasn’t going to be just another statistic, regardless of what cultural influences were filling my brain.  Just because MC Ren told me to run a train on the Preacher’s Daughter didn’t mean I was going to do it. You have to take responsibilities for your own actions.  I am tired of men, specifically black men, blaming their failures on their upbringing.  I am not dismissing it.  Don’t you uthink some days I wish I was born into wealth like a Kennedy? But like the card game Spades, you can only play with the cards that your are dealt and try to make as many books as you can in the game of life. We aren’t all dealt the BIG JOKER.  This is the land of opportunity, life can pass you by if you are consistently making excuses.  My uncle told me a long time ago as a black man you walk out the house down 14-0, don’t add to the deficit.  You can either complain about it or you can beat them at their own game. Aaron Hernandez is innocent until proven guilty, but if he is guilty it isn’t Jay-Z, Tony Soprano, Al Capone, Tupac, the Latin Kings,  hip hop culture or Scarface’s fault. The fault lies 100% at the feet of Aaron Hernandez. If you make a conscious decision to kill someone, you don’t deserve the right to pass the blame.
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