By Rodney Brown, T&D Correspondent
Rapper, actor and philanthropist David Banner told students gathered at South Carolina State University's Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium that black people should not accept media portrayals of African Americans.
In the midst of Black History Month, Banner, the graduate of two historically black colleges and universities, stunned an audience of more than 300 African Americans with the accusation: "African-Americans don't love themselves."
"Black people have accepted what the media have portrayed them to be," Banner said. "We have to work to repaint the picture of black folks."
Banner's appearance kicked off the second annual Hip-Hop Symposium, sponsored by the Miller F. Whittaker Library in collaboration with the Campus Activity Board's "Awakening Lecture Series."
The theme this year is "Black on Black Crime."
In a question-and-answer session, Banner challenged black women in attendance to explain why they perm and straighten their hair.
In response came the defense that "hair perming" is equated with being able to get a decent job as a professional and not being viewed as a threat by bosses who are usually of a different race.
"This is what I mean when I say black people don't love themselves," Banner said. "Perming your hair is a clear example of 'black-on-black crime' and media control. Black-on-black crime is not just a black person committing a violent act against another black person."
Focusing deeper on the media's impact, Banner said the continuing depiction of blacks as aggressive and as a threat to society lowers the value of black life.
"Blacks have accepted the way they are portrayed in the media as a reality," Banner said. "This sad reality makes it easier for a black person to commit a crime against other people of color."
Banner emphasized the importance of African American couples staying together to properly raise a child in a world much different from when their parents were growing up.
"It's up to you to raise your children," Banner said. "If you don't, someone else will."
The mission of the Hip-Hop Symposium is to inform students about the crisis of black-on-black crime and encourage dialogue.
"We hope that this symposium will bring awareness to a very important social issue in our community," said Sherman Pyatt, coordinator of collection development.
"We hope to encourage our students, faculty, staff and the Orangeburg community to identify problems, search for answers and discuss these issues in a critical manner," he said.
This article was originally published Feb 19, 2009 in the Times and Democrat Newspaper, Orangeburg S.C.