Black History Month – A Convict’s Perspective By Aneraé “X-Raided” Brown
As a 34 year old incarcerated African-American male, as a hip-hop artist, and as a human being, I can unequivocally say Black History Month has a deeper meaning to me now than it ever did, any prior year. You see, I am a California boy, a real child of the 80’s. You know, Reaganomics, Oliver North, Freeway Rick, Manuel Noriega… no Rick Ross. I am the fabled crack baby. A boy who became a teen during what some argue was one of the roughest, most dangerous periods in U.S. history. I turned 14 in 1988, a black boy, a fledgling member of the notorious Crip gang, trying to learn how to fly, in the wrong direction, unknowingly, with lead wings. Pistols, cocaine, HIV/AIDS, the Cold War; how those things became the concerns of a 14 year old, who, according to a paternal grandmother named Jesse Mae Martin, of Mobile, Alabama, had “the bright eyes of an old man and an old soul,” God only knows. A boy who learned by what he decried, I was an impressionable teen absorbing the teachings that emanated from the conditions I saw on a daily basis, which included police brutality, the devastation of the gang and crack epidemics on the black community, and an overall fear and disdain of both white people and law enforcement, issues with were largely ignored by the mainstream media. The only journalistic reports being published that addressed these matters to reach my eyes and ears were coming to me in the form of hip-hop music, videos, movies and magazines: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing; Yo! MTV Raps; The Source magazine; In Living Color; and the strongest voices of all, which came from a few little groups you may have heard of that went by the names of Public Enemy, NWA, and the Geto Boys. They were, to the streets, what The Beatles were to white folk. What James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye were to older black folk. They were the voices of our generation. Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices are as recognizable to us as Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s are to, say, a Baby Boomer, for perspective. "Fight the Power," "Fu*k the Police" -- you know Chuck D and Ice Cube’s voices and the sounds of Dr. Dre and The Bomb Squad, even if you do not know their names and faces.