Kendrick Lamar received the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album, ‘DAMN’, and apparently there is quite a bit of critique on the honor granted if you even consider it such. The Pulitzer board characterized the album as, “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of African-American life.” Little did they know that there limited and vague perspective would attract quite the approbation from the music world. And to add insult to injury the Pulitzer administrator, Dana Canedy, went on to explain that the prize, “shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.” Perhaps you can imagine that the aforementioned did not make matters better OR you could be just as bewildered and dumbfounded as the Pulitzer committee. Either way, no harm or foul here.
Allow me to unravel my perspective. Let’s start with, “This is a big moment for hip-hop music,”? Hmmm – I wonder what the subtext to this statement is. I can only imagine that there is a hint of “high culture” validating “low culture”, and as a result of them finally throwing hip hop a cookie 🍪 after they have turned a blind eye to countless poets within the hip hop community prior; they look forward to receiving some praise and applause for allowing one of the most influentially potent genre’s of music in the world to receive the Pulitzer Prize.
Well folks, that is not exactly what’s happening and I understand of course. As a black woman, I totally get it. However, let me pose this question – why do we put so much emphasis on awards, accolades and honors, especially those that come from outside our respective communities? Why do we allow these things to validate us. I would think that if there is so much critique on Kendrick receiving the award for music as opposed to literature and even more critique on the reasoning the Pulitzer committee gave regarding why Kendrick received the award in the first place, why even place value on the Pulitzer Prize at all? Why do we expect the mainstream community to understand the black narrative and what we need to thrive? I notice that in the black community there tends to be an ongoing badge of honor we feel when we discover the first black American to be accepted into this mainstream club or establishment whether it is the Oscars or Hall Of Fame. We get so giddy and begin to say things like, “It’s a good time to be black.” However, the moment when we need no validation from outside ourselves, is the moment that we will truly understand the power the Creator gave us and everyone else on the planet. And that is, the power to love, recognize, celebrate and honor ourselves; for that is the true goal I would imagine: WHOLENESS!
Congratulations Kendrick. A prestigious mainstream organization has honored you. And as long as it sits well with you, it most definitely sits well with me. However, if any part of you does not feel in alignment with this gesture, you don’t have to accept it. Whether you were recognized or not, the IMPACT has and will continue to be made. And for that, I thank you!
ALL THE QUOTES COME FROM HERE
💜Love & Light☀,
CRISTEN M. MILLS