I want to talk about an interesting story that took place in Delaware last week. Some of you may have heard about singer, actor, and author Tyrese Gibson getting thrown out and banned from the largest Hip-Hop station in Delaware.
Well, Tyrese has been on a book tour, and now is starting to promote is Album that drops Nov 1st. He was stopping at a local elementary school where the students have been doing exceptionally well and he was a surprise quest. They stop at a store across from the school to get a Pepsi and Tyrese realizes it is a liquor store. He doesn’t mention his concern at the school, but focuses on the kids. But when he gets to the radio station, he begins to go in on his concern, telling listeners that they should not let anyone just come on their block and do just anything.
The station went to a commercial break, told the DJ not to continue the interview and kicked Tyrese out. Now if that was not bad enough, in his a statement posted on the stations web site, Tony Q, PD and owner of Kiss 101.7 says that Tyrese was asked to leave because repeatedly used the term “hommie”, which is degrading to the audience. Now Tom, I know that there are a ton on words with double meaning in hip-hop, but I don’t believe hommie is one of them. I hope that the people in Delaware deal with this guy accordingly, but I think there is a more important issue at play.
Tyrese is coming off of two successful movies, a book that was on the New York Times best sellers list, and is preparing to release a new CD. Life is good. So often when that is the case for mainstream artist, they shy away from talking about anything mildly controversial. For those that know Tyrese’s story, you know that his mother and grandmother both struggled with alcoholism, making the liquor store across from the school personal. He said, “I know adults drink, and that is ok, but when people take it over the top, that is not what you need to expose kids to. Elementary school kids should be protected from the negative elements that are attracted to liquor stores”.
I wish that more celebrities and non-celebrities would speak up when they see something wrong. The problem is that many of us talk about how celebrities should be more active, but then when they do, we don’t come to their aid. Remember when Kanye said Bush doesn’t like black people? Few national black leaders came to his aid to even provide context for the statement. Who cares what Kanye has said or done before or after the statement? He spoke a truth that many felt, but didn’t have the voice to proclaim. How many local activists have been protesting the placement of liquor stores in poor communities? Tyrese talking on the radio validated those folks work to a listening audience that doesn’t often think about the issue or those fighting for it.
Family, this is not about the voice of celebrities or non-celebs. This is really about supporting those who are courageous enough to speak out regardless of their profession. I would ask that you support Tyrese vs. this idiot PD. But I would also ask that you support the voices of credible people fighting to affect change where you live. From the largest to the smallest issues. Co-sign on some stuff so that people willing to fight don’t feel alone. But most importantly so that some things might actually change.
I was talking to one of my mentors from the University of Toledo, where I went to school. He told me that only 8% of black males graduate from the institution after 5 years. Many non-HBCU campuses are facing similar numbers, but few Alumni come out to support. I decided to sponsor a black alumni weekend at the University of Toledo to do two things. Engage black alumni, connecting them to current students and organizations to provide consistent support and mentorship. And second raise scholarship dollars. ALL proceeds from the weekend are going to scholarships for current students. We are looking to raise $20k for them. I am asking my TJMS family to support me even if you don’t know where UT is, live in Toledo or Ohio. I have Michael Eric Dyson speaking for a luncheon honoring alumni and Doug E. Fresh, Lamman Rucker and Melyssa Ford hosting events for a city that seldom has celebs come through. Tom, Dyson is coming for FREE in support of the scholarship fund, and I am asking folks who cant come out October 20-23 in two weeks to just give $5 dollars towards the scholarship. You can go to utblackalumni.eventbrite.com/ to give.
Now if you’re like Jeff, there is a lot more out there to give to than you. I would say your right. If you want to give to something other than scholarships at the University of Toledo please do so. Just give your time or resources somewhere. We are the solution to the problems facing our communities. Today I salute Tyrese, Tom, grandparents, activists teachers, preachers and all those using their voice to make someone’s life better. Support them family…..as they support us.
From Tokyo Tom, Im Jeff and that’s my truth.