This year I attended Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH’s Wall Street Project in New York and sat in on a hip hop workshop.
The panel talked about how hip hop was a lifestyle and a culture. They said in your marketing you should be disruptive. I liked that. Although I didn’t leave knowing the hip hop culture, I did learn.
I left convinced that it was not my culture, but there are aspects of hip hop that I admire and much that I don’t really understand or agree with. I am a jazz person, in culture and lifestyle.
All that to say, my admiration grows for Chicago’s own Chance The Rapper. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him. I have heard him once as he paid tribute to the late Muhammad Ali at the ESPY Awards. I was impressed with his message and his voice and the overall presentation. It was a wow factor for me and caught my attention.
The Bennett men at the White House.
I know Chance the Rapper as Ken Bennett’s son. I know Ken, his father, well. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Ken was a young guy around Operation PUSH. He worked in Rev. Willie Barrow’s office.
He was so polite, so willing to help and so thorough. He always did what he was asked and reported back for more work. He was a volunteer for Barack Obama when volunteers for the young politician were few and far between. In fact, some days he was one of one.
Ken worked the campaign that Barack lost, the congressional campaign against Bobby Rush. He knocked on doors and he caught Barack’s political attention because he was so dedicated. Some days, literally it was just Ken and Barack canvasing.
Ken stayed with Barack as he ascended the political ladder. He worked with him in the United States Senate office in civic engagement. Ken was wonderful to work with. He was a great representative.
We worked with Ken a lot when I was President of ABLE, the Black business organization to which many of Obama’s friends belonged. We were a small tight group behind then-Senator Obama. Again, Ken was always thoughtful, sensitive and carried the work of the Senator forward. He was a wonderful liaison.
Ken went to the White House with the President for a short while. But he was a very concerned father, sensitive to the needs of his two boys, and thought it was best for him to come home to be with them daily.
He told me about Chance, but I didn’t get the rap music and the unorthodox things he was doing with getting his music out to the public. But I admired his thinking; out-of-the box marketing is always impressive.
And I just like Ken; he is so engaging and always delightful. I admired his dedication to Barack. Ken eventually joined the staff of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. I was impressed that Emanuel had brought Ken on his team, so much so, that I texted him to say, he was one of his best appointments, to date. I predicted that Ken would be a tremendous asset to the Mayor, if allowed.
Barack and Chicago’s Black Media.
When Barack was running for Senate, members of the Black press asked where did this young guy come from. He hadn’t paid his civil rights dues. How Black was he, was a main question constantly asked, where did he come from?
My buddy, Melody Spann Cooper of WVON, had enough and called a Black press meeting at a West Side restaurant one early morning about Barack. The conversation was hostile and mean spirited.
Barack was such an out-of -the box guy with his politics and he was held in question. Who sent him? Where did he come from? Who is he really? We got into an altercation. I kept saying he is seeing the political world differently than others, he is crossing over, let him fly. He might be just different enough. Let him go.
What was amazing is that the Black press was more against him than for him. Melody was took the position that we just don’t have to tear him down. It was an ugly meeting.
Crabs in a Barrel Syndrome
I mention that meeting because here we are again, with Chance. He made Grammy history, with his unorthodox way of distributing his music. Bravo Chance. Governor Rauner applauded him with a Tweet and proposed a meeting with him. Chance took the meeting. Bravo Chance.
They did meet and Chance asked the Governor about financial support for the Chicago Public Schools, of which Chance is a product. The Governor did not respond as Chance had wanted, so in the next few days, Chance went deep into his pocket and gave CPS a million dollars. He challenged others to do the same. Bravo Chance.
We all know that the schools require a government funding solution. But Chance did his part; he rose to the occasion and smartly provided funds directly to schools on the South Side of Chicago. Bravo Chance.
And then something strange happened. The Chicago Sun-Times carried a front-page story that was critical of Chance. Columnist Mary Mitchell went negative on Chance. She reported that he is in court settling child support monthly payments.
Mary brought up baby mama drama. And as you read the story you wondered, what the hell is this all about? Young Black men are under attack by the media, no matter what they do.
If Chance can be so generous with the school children of Chicago, surely, absolutely he will take care of his child. I know he will, because I know his parents. He is wise beyond his 23 years. He is brilliant, his future is bright, and I am sure Chance’s immediate family will be well provided for.
But the question, lingers, why do we have to tear each other up? Especially when we are so doing the right thing.
Bravo Chance. Keep it moving. Rap on.