You hear it all of the time in the hip hop community, “death before dishonor.” Some people even have it tattooed on their body parts, “death before dishonor.” Some artists have named albums and books “death before dishonor.” Many letters from prison end with the words “death before dishonor.” I even hear children saying “death before dishonor.” Then I ponder the question, what do you actually honor that you’ll be willing to die for before bringing shame to it?
Written by Cornell Dews
Alright, let me ask you and please be honest, all of you who have ever uttered the words “death before dishonor,” please finish this statement: I’d rather die before I…
Now the quote in itself is nothing new. Warriors, combatants, and military forces have been saying “death before dishonor” forever. Meaning, they’d rather die before dishonoring their country. They’d rather die before being captured by their enemy then being abused and tortured and forced to divulge information which would bring shame to the same country they were fighting for. The commonality was, they were in wars, combat fighting for something. I ask, what kind of wars are we in? Drug wars? Gang wars? Turf wars? Rap beefs? Are you serious? How is this statement applicable to us in our community nowadays other then when it’s applied to “snitching”?
I know how we could apply “death before dishonor” for the betterment of our community: what if we were willing to die before we let someone disgrace our neighborhoods by dealing drugs or committing any of the other reckless acts that have left dilapidated, trash strewn, graffiti drawn vacated dwellings? What if we were willing to die before we let someone disrespect our elders, our women or our children in our community in any form? What if we were willing to die before we let others financially rape our communities? What if we were willing to die for the same things Dr. King, Brother Malcolm, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Louis Farrakhan and countless others committed themselves to? What if we were willing to die for something other then dishonoring the street code of “snitching”? Besides, even when you say that you’re willing to die before “snitching,” I question it very seriously because if everybody was willing to die before “snitching” there would have never been a reason to have a “stop snitching” campaign. Death before dishonor.
Written by Cornell Dews