Before the money, there was love
But before the money, it was tough
Then came the money through a plug
It’s a shame it ain’t enough
– Joey Bada$$ ~ Paper Trails
In his album earlier this year Joey Bada$$ crafted a refreshingly mature song that spoke towards the catch 22 situation that the concept of money and material capital imposes on black people’s sense of uplift (or as he puts it in an affective mode that consistently relays back to his St. Lucian heritage: the bottom that is the plantation). The conundrum being the material capacity to address the original situation of collective poverty lives in an inverse relation temporally to the immaterial love that emerges in poverty.
This kind of after-the-fact consciousness is at the heart of the politics of a global class now freely identifying as Afropolitan. A politics that has at best left itself open to, and at worst has openly applied neoliberalist frameworks of ‘development’, ‘progress’, and the usual gushing of identitarian analyses of the self. It is hoped that Vitamin D with today’s discussion will add to the already rich dialogue that has developed ( see links below for articles discussed in the pod) from a perspective informed by structural violence as explicated through the discourses of decoloniality and Afropessimism (whether old or new).
This is a polemic from two black individuals. So if this is perceived as an attack on someone who may have identified with this Afropolitan formation then that perception will have merit. Vitamin D would be much more interested in communicating with and to those ‘transnationals’ who would use these resources as an opportunity for ethical reflection and asking questions that should really be posed immediately after that reaching of the point of arrival proverbially refered to as ‘the promised land’. What did this land promise?, Has the promise been fulfilled?, Was this promise what was initially desired?, Could this land even deliver on what it did promise?, and most importantly, should we now make the same promise to those (left?) behind us?
To return to the (un)expected wisdom of a rapper from Bed-Stuy born barely 20 years ago who is yet intuitive enough to know not to let the necessity of dreaming freedom for the self (‘I gotta get my momma off the scene’) get in the way of discerning just what is gained and lost in that very act (‘cash ruined everything around me’).
When Afropolitans dream, are they also not slumbering? When they slumber, are they not perpetuating the nightmare for others? Here’s to a different trail entirely.
Links discussed in the pod :