A Black Teen Beats Up A White Man For Listening To Rap Music?
In Palm Bay, Florida, a 14-year-old teenager is facing assault charges after he punched a 22-year-old man for—get this—listening to rap music. The incident occurred late last week when the juvenile, Joshuah Lamb, approached the white male, David McKnight, who was listening to Gucci Mane‘s hit song, “Wasted,” on a boombox outside of his house.
“You shouldn’t be listening to rap music because you’re white,” Lamb allegedly told McKnight.
McKnight responded by telling Lamb and a group of his friends that he could listen to whatever music he wanted to listen to. Lamb responded by allegedly punching McKnight repeatedly and causing him to suffer a broken toe, a concussion, a swollen eye and even strangulation marks around his neck. The group of friends he was with also allegedly spit on McKnight and kicked him while he was down on the ground. Local authorities are now trying to decide whether or not to charge Lamb with a hate crime.
The incident calls to mind just one question: Is hip-hop hurting race relations more than it’s helping them right now?
In case if you can’t tell from my name (it’s Chris Yuscavage, shortened to “Scav” for my byline here at DrJays.com Live), I’m a white guy. And I’ll admit that I am (barely) old enough to remember a time when buying and listening to rap music—as a white guy—wasn’t exactly easy. I caught the side eyes, evil eyes, rolled eyes and wide eyes many a time during my teens for stepping foot in the rap/hip-hop aisle at The Wall or Sam Goody (sidebar: Remember those places?!). I got shut down trying to buy Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth album once, when the guy behind the register asked me, “What do you know about this type of music?” before telling me he couldn’t sell a CD with a “Parental Advisory” sticker on it to anyone under 17. I even caught flack from a lot of good black friends back then, who peppered me with questions like, “Who was the first rapper to go mainstream?” as if knowing that information somehow made it acceptable for me to listen to rap.
I took it all in stride, though, because—to be honest—I was a little green behind the ears when it came to hip-hop knowledge when I first got introduced to rap in the mid-1990s. So all those tests pushed me to find out more about hip-hop culture and forced me to develop my own opinions on it. I chalked it up as paying my dues and kept it moving. In the process, I also made some friends that I otherwise might not have made. I can thank rap music for that.
But an incident like the one that happened in Palm Bay never entered my mind. I figured that, at worst, I’d get laughed at for playing something corny or told to turn my rap music down. I never thought I’d be put in physical harm because of what I was listening to. And in 2010, it’s especially absurd that something like this would happen.
If the facts reported thus far hold up, Joshuah Lamb should face charges of committing a hate crime. What he did was unnecessary, wrong and, frankly, disgusting. This story should also be used to show that whatever semblance of Barack Obama‘s “post-racial society” you thought existed…doesn’t (as if you didn’t know that already). As far as race relations go, we’ve still (obviously!) got a long way to go. Probably more than you and I think. And when you consider that hip-hop is one of the things that’s actually helped bring different races together over the course of the last 30 years—not driven them apart—well, the Palm Bay incident sounds even worse.
As far as rap music goes, I thought we were beyond this or, at least, further along than we were back when I was growing up. I thought rap music was now free for everyone to enjoy (for better or worse!). But then this story came along. And while it’s almost too crazy to believe it happened, it did.
But now that it did, how concerned should we be?
Photo Credit: FunnyRapJams.com