Remember Curtis Jackson a.k.a “50 Cent,” the man who ruled NYC after ethering Ja Rule in what was the last great feud in hip hop history? 50 Cent’s rap career may have chilled since then, but his business savvy is still intact. With an estimated $155 million net worth, 50 Cent is one of the richest hip hop artists of all time.
And he’s coming to Rockaway. Tomorrow.
Rockaway gets little love. Hyper-segregated and isolated from Manhattan thanks to racist urban planning schemes and decaying transportation infrastructure, Rockaway is often overlooked by most City dwellers. But the tides are changing. Located off the beach, Rockaway is becoming a hipster’s paradise. Removed from the hustle and bustle of the grimy, overcrowded city, Rockaway’s spacious waterside real estate is a gem for folks who want to live within City limits, but appreciate small-town serenity.
As Rockaway moves with the throes of gentrification, us long-time Black Rockaway residents fear that we will be forced out and left behind. Again. And as the Black Lives Matter Movement grows with every training and direct action, we know it’s time for our Black celebrities to step up and speak out.
And that’s why we’re demanding that 50 Cent acknowledge us with principle and intention. He’ll be at the Rockaway Liquor and Wine Warehouse to promote EFFEN Vodka. And we’ll be there to tell him to use his #EffenVoice to raise awareness about the tense relationship between Black communities and police violence.
Here in Rockaway, police occupy our streets with “random” car checks. Basically stop-and-frisk, police pull you over, go through your shit, and capriciously decide whether or not you broke some law or minor infraction. The process takes forever, backs up traffic, and criminalizes Black folk. This process doesn’t happen in white Rockaway neighborhoods … only the Black ones. Because ya know … crime.
This is the community 50 Cent is coming in to.
His impending presence is polarizing. He’ll be in the white area of Rockaway, and for the past week,
white “community” leaders have voiced their barely-guised racist innuendo. Straight from the white supremacist playbook, they’ve called for heightened police presence because “thugs” are due to show.
And we’ll be there. Us Black folk and our allies who have supported him over the years and respect him as an icon. We’ll be there with cultural criticism, highlighting the uncomfortable irony of a Black man who’s profited tremendously by rapping about the same conditions we all stem from, but has done little to uplift the communities from which he hails.
But we’ll also be there with hope — hope that he sees us, and revitalizes his commitment to our communities. We’re counting on you Curtis. We’ll be heard, or die tryin.’
*Featured Image Credit: www.independent.co.uk