(Violence, Ethics, and Art)
We’ve all seen the memes and controversy surrounding the Super Bowl Halftime Show starring Snoop Dogg — did he smoke before the show and was he promoting gang violence by repping the Crips? — who sang alongside Dr. Dre, Eminem (Shoutout for taking the knee!), Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar. Many have described this show as the best halftime show ever and from an artistic perspective, I totally get it. Side note: I was also hyper impressed with the ability to get that stage set up and torn down so quickly—complete efficiency.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time considering the implications surrounding Snoop as a headliner for the show and I’m looking forward to reading the comments on this post because I am hoping that I can broaden my horizons and gauge your perspectives. Here’s the thing. I’m not so concerned about the supposed weed right before the show that the media went crazy over. Is it a gateway drug or not? That’s certainly debatable.
The real dilemma for me was the choice of Snoop’s outfit. I live in the City of Milwaukee. I chose to raise my children here because I want them to be exposed to multiple cultures and have friends, doctors, dentists, teachers, etc. that do NOT look like them or celebrate the same holidays that they do. With urban life comes racial segregation, gangs, and other issues like poverty and homelessness.
According to the New York Post, Cities considered the most segregated in 2021 include New York — which ranks No. 1 — as well as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, among others. (https://nypost.com/2021/06/21/most-big-cities-have-become-more-racially-segregated-study/)
Racial segregation is a major problem for me. I live in the City of Milwaukee. I am a single mom. I have eight children. I see the problems firsthand in my community. The Halftime show was taped in LA, one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. Was Snoop, by publicly parading his gang attire, spitting in the face of the people who lost their lives and loved ones to gang violence?
“Too few people understand that racial residential segregation lies at the heart of this inequality,” said Stephen Menendian, author of The Roots of Structural Racism Project at UC Berkeley. “This is evidenced by how residential segregation determines access to schools, healthy neighborhoods, jobs and surveillance by police.” Menedian added that the US is “in a dire spot with respect to race,” according to CNN. “We have a greater awareness that there is clearly a problem of structural racial inequality, but there’s a lack of awareness of the nature of the problem.” (see link above)
Is Snoop Dogg just expressing his “Art” or is he instigating an affiliation with gang violence? Do we expect artists and athletes to adhere to our lofty and noble standards and ethics? Where do self-expression and identification fit in?
I “snooped” (c’mon, laugh!) around the internet and according to the popular sports/gaming/culture website, HitC, “The blue bandana is actually a symbol of the African-American California street gang Rollin 20 Crips, which Snoop Dogg was part of. Founded in 1969 in Los Angeles, The Crips are one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States. They have thousands of members across America and traditionally wear blue clothes and bandanas. Rumors are flooding Twitter that Snoop Dogg was told by the NFL that he was not allowed to wear a blue bandana or show his affiliation with the gang. It’s unclear whether this is actually true, but the tracksuit certainly seems like Snoop’s way of paying homage to the famous street gang that he was once a member of.” (https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/02/15/snoop-dogg-blue-bandana-tracksuit/)
As I close out this series about Art in Sports, I look forward to reading your comments. I’ve asked a handful of former professional athletes about this only to receive mixed answers. If you were in charge of the NFL Halftime Show, would you have allowed Snoop to represent his colors? Is it ultimately acceptable to justify a violent agenda in the name of creative freedom and integrity? *pictures from Yahoo images.