Curtis Jackson (aka 50Cent) was introduced to the world quite differently on Oprah’s Next Chapter. Interviewed at his grandparent’s home, Jackson delved into the love he had for his teenage mother. and how she chose to deal drugs instead of receive welfare to provide financially. Vulnerability, hurt and pain flashed through this so-called hard core rapper as he recounted her death (reflected as a homicide) and his grandmother’s undying love – for she saw him only as Curtis; her baby. Yet he went on to talk about himself as “50 Cent” – the man who had no love for Oprah and was shown in a clip discussing her show catering mostly to White women. There seemed to be a thought that Oprah in many ways was out of touch with what was happening in his world and could not relate even if she tried. In many ways, he was right.
Seemingly, outside of a small group of distinguished Black men (Stedman Graham, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, President Obama, Tyler Perry, Will Smith, etc.) rappers were the bane of her existence. Her disgust of misogynistic lyrics, violence, bitches, ho’s and niggas did not sit well with her, or much of the so-called Black community. Slowly but surely Oprah is realizing that rappers like 50 have a story more often than not that is dismissed, particularly by African Americans perceived to have “made it”. Now, I agree with Oprah on horrible content of some rap artist that are cursing and spewing forth mess outside the context of a story they have personally witnessed or experienced. However, I’m also glad she is giving herself a chance to get to know these young men a little better.
Jackson, characterized as an avid reader and self-proclaimed loner seemed content to hang out at grandma’s; sneaking up on her when he comes into town. His room in the basement was available for escape, disclosing that he was not allowed to curse in her home. Oprah seemed to “relax” in awe of such an articulate, witty, insightful man who for all intents and purpose was simply, human.
Recognizing Oprah’s experiencing with some Black men in her family was very violence and sexually abusive the reinforcement of this by some in the rap culture can inadvertently create an associative fear and pain. For every Black man who believes it is “normal” to refer to women as bitches and ho’s only drives that stake deeper into the heart of some Black girls and women who have not experienced the opposite. Yet Oprah has experienced the opposite. I remember Dr. Maya Angelou, Oprah’s mentor, discussing her conversation of love with the late rapper and actor Tupac Shakur. Angelou recalling his enrage regarding a gross disrespect on the set of “Poetic Justice” calmly soothed him and asked, “Don’t you know who you are?” In one fell swoop, Shakur calmed; cried like a baby – his mother thanked her profusely. Dr. Angelou also experienced childhood rape at the hands of a Black man, but understood in her wisdom that to hate Black men would keep her in bondage from loving those like Curtis James Jackson who (in his lyrics) just want Black women like his grandmother and Oprah to come and “give me a hug”…
I like Curtis Jackson. Way to go Oprah.