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Lauryn Hill delivers another open letter via Tumblr – this time detailing her thoughts about the racist construct of western society and her painfully intimate dealings with the IRS since being charged with tax evasion in 2012. While the validity of her statements is up for debate, the strength and clarity of her points is wholly undeniable. She offers an examination of society and the politics of color that spans several eras crucial to the history of African-Americans, from the slave trade to the prison industrial complex of the present day. Hill writes with a sincerity and urgency that ensures her sentiments – even if off-putting – are not lost on the reader. Check the text below to examine the latest missive from Ms. Lauryn Hill for yourself.

The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labor of black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-white peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.

The initial claim by the oppressors, followed a moral imperative (so they said) that people outside of Occidental and European birth were in savage and cursed conditions, and that God justified the captivity of these people, and the rape and pillage of their lands.

Ironically, these oppressors would try to discard this same God, who supposedly justified this brutality, in the name of Darwin, whose famous line ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify criminal behavior once the Bible could no longer be used as a hiding place for economic domination and evil intention.

Spirituality and morality were replaced by capitalism, and with it a conscious shift of focus toward the exploitation of the vulnerable.

In order to justify reverse racism one would have to first create an even playing field, undo the generations of torture, terror, and brutality, and then judge whether or not a non-white person is in fact a racist. This approach would require people to examine the need/addiction to feel superior to someone else for no justifiable reason, and the myriad policies: Spiritual, political and social, that it bore. True dominion is self evident and not the result of sabotaging another in order to achieve it. That would be an illegitimate as well as a fleeting position. The Universe, will eventually seek to right/balance itself.

Of course there are white people who live transcendent lives, not exploiting ill-gotten privilege or perpetuating the sins of their ancestors who used violence and deceit as a means to gain advantage over others. Humanity in proper order is obligated to acknowledge the Truth, whoever it comes from, be they Black, White or other. Righteous indignation is simply a response to long-standing evil.

Much of the world is still reeling from the abuses of Imperialist selfishness, misunderstanding, ignorance and greed. Black people remain in many ways a shattered community, disenfranchised, forcefully removed from context and still caged in, denied from making truly independent choices and experiencing existential freedom. Their natural homes, just like their natural selves, raped and pillaged of the resources and gifts God has given to them. Interpreted through someone else’s slanted lens and filter, they remain in many ways, misrepresented. Taxation without proper representation, might I remind you, was the very platform of protest that began the Revolutionary War, which gained this country its independence from England. Anger is not only the natural response to the abuse of power, but is also appropriate when there is no real acknowledgment of these abuses, or deep, meaningful and profound change.

If we took all of what we deem horrible regarding the criminal abuses that black people have committed over this country’s history, and add it all up, it still does not compare to the hundreds of years of terrorism, violent domination, theft, rape, abuse, captivity, and beyond that black people have suffered under the ideologies and systems of white supremacy, racism, and slave based paradigms. I say this only to say that abuse unresolved begets or creates abuse. How then does the chief offender become the judge? Might does not necessarily mean right. Right is right. People forcibly reduced to sub-human existences, so that they behave in sub-human ways, helps a system to justify itself or feel less guilty about its blood saturated foundation and gross crimes against humanity. People, like plants, grow where the light is. When you enclose a plant and limit its light source, it will bend itself toward the light, for the light is necessary for its survival. This same thing happens to people locked in communities where little light and little opportunity is allowed them, survival then forces them to twist and/or bend toward the only way of escape.

There is good. And I both acknowledge and encourage the good. Instead of throwing out the Baby with the bath water, we do well to expose the intentionally poisoned water the Baby has been forced to soak in since its origin in these lands. America’s particular brand of hypocrisy is gross (double entendre).

I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term ‘make the IRS whole’… make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalities. The entire time, I thought, who has made black people whole?! Who has made recompense for stealing, imposing, lying, murdering, criminalizing the traumatized, taking them against their wills, destroying their homes, dividing their communities, ‘trying’ to steal their destinies, their time, stagnating their development, I could go on and on. Has America, or any of the nations of the world guilty of these atrocities, ever made black people or Africa whole or do they continue to sit on them, control them, manipulate them, cage them, rob them, brutalize them, subject them to rules that don’t apply to all? Use language, veiled coercion, and psychological torment like invisible fences to keep them locked into a pattern of limitation and therefore control by others. You have to remain focused to cease from rage.

The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.

When you are beaten and penalized for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept. Anyone forced to live so incredibly diametrically opposed to that which is natural to themselves, will end up in crisis if they don’t successfully find a way to improve or transcend these circumstances! All of which require healing. It is only by the Grace of God and the resilience of the people that things haven’t been worse.

Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.

We have no desire to create humanoids, turn people into machines, or dumb them down so that they remain dependent longer than necessary to an antiquated system in denial of its many inadequacies and need to evolve. Instead we seek to educate and shed light on the snares, traps, and enticements that people set up in the name of business that are intended only to catch the sleeping and/or uninformed.

Why would a system, ‘well intentioned’, wait until breakdown or incarceration to consider rehabilitation, after generations of institutionally inflicted trauma and abuse on a people? To me it is obvious that the accumulation of generational trauma and abuse have created the very behaviors the system tries to punish, by providing no sufficient outlets for the victims of institutional terror. Clearly, the institution seeks to hide its own criminal history at the expense and wholeness of the abused, who ‘acting out’ from years of abuse and mistreatment, reflect the very aggression that they were exposed to.

Comments

  • Jimmy Bones

    the new Uncle Tomism: “While the validity of her statements is up for debate….” Ask a non-rich bougie black and you’ll get the real..black america is split and its’ time to take the spotlight OFF white supremacy and deal with THE WATCH DOGS…HOUSE NEGROES who uphold the status-quo and ENABLE this system to function!

    • Nomadic

      Have you read the Isis Papers? Probably not.

    • Mofo

      hipster trash response.

  • macmeez

    dope.

  • William Seyoum Dorsey

    Real Hip Hop!

  • jd

    My God I love her.

  • A Willy

    my idol

  • thomas

    shes awful. she should have just payed her taxes like everyone else, and quit bitching. Nas never wrote an open letter when he had tax trouble, he just payed it off. she should follow suite

    • lucas

      yeah people all over the world should just shut up and do what they are told, and then every problem in the world will work out fine… and then the superior VIPs will make alot of money off your hard work and/or death… and we should just sacrifice all of our freedom and awareness and feel nothing, like we are supposed to… i see your point my fellow ignorant friend, ignorance is bliss am i right

    • http://GeneusMedia.com/ Geneus

      So you’d rather pay your taxes earning minimum wage but let Ms. Hill, who made millions you prolly won’t make in your lifetime, off coz she speaks the truth?

      It’s one thing saying “fuck the system”. That’s what got her in jail. Yes, the system is fucked up but if I, as an ordinary citizen am expected to pay taxes then I damn sure expect those who make millions to do the same. Whether that tax money is going to Mr. Whitey is another discussion by itself.

      You’re the ignorant one because your logic basically is by paying tax, we “just sacrifice all of our freedom and awareness”. In actuality, evading tax is a surefire way to sacrifice your freedom. Case in point? Lauryn Hill. You’re saying “Good on her she didn’t pay her taxes becasue they are going to whitey!”. Well uhhhhmm, a prison sentence is what you get for evading tax fam. Idiot!

    • knkytht

      You’re making too much sense, bruh. I love Lauryn to death but she’s on some bullshit with this tax situation. I’m out here on unemployment and STILL gotta pay taxes on THAT, and she’s not even filing and wants people to hurt for her?? Girl, bye. It’s a recession.

    • Andrew Hake

      Her comparing her situation at all to slavery, racism, and so forth is a complete fucking disgrace. I love Lauryn and the great music she has brought to the world. But my opinion of her has definitely changed for good at this point.

      Don’t get it wrong people. She is completely delusional. The only person responsible for her situation is Lauryn Hill.

    • God Body

      She herself maybe should pay unto Ceasar what is ceasars, but she makes a good point. The system is not representative and we are paying for our own destruction. It not an easy choice to make especially when she is as independant from this system as she is. We don’t have the same privilage so we’ll pay just to keep out of jail. She tried a ting, it didn’t work out. But imagine if we all took the stand she did together. We can’t all go to prison

    • http://GeneusMedia.com/ Geneus

      So you’d rather pay your taxes earning minimum wage but let Ms. Hill, who made millions you prolly won’t make in your lifetime, off coz she speaks the truth?

      It’s one thing saying “fuck the system”. That’s what got her in jail. Yes, the system is fucked up but if I, as an ordinary citizen am expected to pay taxes then I damn sure expect those who make millions to do the same. Whether that tax money is going to Mr. Whitey is another discussion by itself.

      You’re the ignorant one because your logic basically is by paying tax, we “just sacrifice all of our freedom and awareness”. In actuality, evading tax is a surefire way to sacrifice your freedom. Case in point? Lauryn Hill. You’re saying “Good on her she didn’t pay her taxes becasue they are going to whitey!”. Well uhhhhmm, a prison sentence is what you get for evading tax fam. Idiot!

    • thomas

      i never said people should “shut up and do what theyre told”, but if you break the law like she did, she should come up with all these excuses. and how is paying taxes sacrificing freedom and awareness?

    • God Body

      You say this probably because you feel that the system to be paid is legitimate. Fair enough for you. for those who feel the system that wants to be paid is not legitimate, do you feel we should pay anyway?

  • http://GeneusMedia.com/ Geneus

    Damn! Y’all gon’ copy and paste that entire post like y’all authored it? Plagiarise much? Bad form.

    • Eddie STATS

      It says in the very 1st sentence: “Lauryn Hill delivers another open letter via Tumblr” –with a link to her Tumblr. Emphasis on ‘open letter’ (and for the record we always credit and link to sources)

    • http://GeneusMedia.com/ Geneus

      Aight fam. Got it. Stay up!

  • Cepheus July 23

    Lauryn Hill is fearless. Abibifahodie!

  • reign10

    She’s absolutely correct, when I read Brainwashed by Tom Burrell the other night I found the answer I had been looking for, how did that devil do this to us, how does the machine continue to perpetuate itself. It’s insane and brilliant at the same time. These people are on the golf courses, in boardrooms, behind closed doors thinking and strategizing against YOU. You need to apply critical thinking and common sense and READ, start with the book I just mentioned, it’s powerful. I was like, wow!

  • TheOneFromTheSun

    Lauryn has done what so many of us wish we could do. I find it reprehensible that people here say that they love Lauryn Hill but in the same breath call her crazy. She is the music that you all loved. Her mind and her soul produced the lyrics and imagery that changed the way that most of us thought about music. She allowed us to see beautiful blackness in the richness of her skin and color of her songs. However, now you reject her and call her delusional when she is simply saying the same things she has always said, but this time there is no beat for you to bop your head to. Horrible.

    I pay taxes too and I champion any “black” “oppressed” person who stands up to the system and say I will not contribute to it. That takes more courage than any of you naysayers will ever have in your life. I would never agree with the imprisonment of any queen, by an unjust system.

    And because I know the history and the relationship that we [black people] have to this system and how it is linked to her current situation; I am totally behind her.

    Yall negroes need to read a book and know your history, so that you learn that to call for her imprisonment means you have already sided with the same entity who currently oppresses you.

    • http://GeneusMedia.com/ Geneus

      There are two facts you’re clearly choosing to dismiss here.

      1. She chose to be a part of this system she detests. She chose to sign a recording contract to amass the millions she did which she entirely knew she’d have to pay taxes for.

      2. Her having this ideology and not wanting to be a part of it meant what? She could either release her music/thoughts/ideology/whatever gratis or relocate elsewhere where she wouldn’t have to adhere to the status quo.

      All this going off just sounds way too much like someone who’s salty they didn’t cheat the system. All that’s happened isn’t some sort of revelation. She’s not the first and she’s undoubtedly not the last person to serve time for evading tax. She’s coming off a tad bit naive going off like this when she knew, like you highlighted about our social ills, the man, the 1%, etc., she had to pay taxes/the man.

      At the end of the day, we all have someone or an entity to answer to. While we still participate in this world on a commercial basis, tax is one of many activities we unfortunately have to adhere to.

      Calling for her to take the punishment has nothing to do with one’s grasp of our history. It has everything to do with accountability. As much as you think you can relate to her, you unfortunately can’t and she can’t relate to us so there will be no side taking. I’m not saying we should support. In the same breath, I’m not saying she should be lynched at the nearest stake. I’m calling for accountability. She doesn’t want to be accountable? She shouldn’t have signed that record deal that made her filthy rich!

    • TheOneFromTheSun

      And what I’m saying is SO WHAT about answering to this system. The same system that bailed out bankers when millions of people lost their homes in the foreclosure crises. The same system that uses black music to make millions, while many artists are cheated out of their rights . The same system that makes it allowable for someone like Stephen Baldwin or NIcholas Gage to walk away after tax evasion and people like Lauryn Hill and Wesley Snipes to actually be sentenced to prison.

      Yea the system is a corrupt system and it prosecutes corruptly.

    • Cyber_Me

      ^5! That is so true about how many Whites are able to have a ‘get out of jail card for free’, well actually, many of them never go to jail for their crimes, whereas Black people do. It’s a real double standard that’s for sure! There was a White guy who was very well known who was instructing people through courses and videos, on how to evade paying their taxes. One would think that greedy ‘Uncle Sam’ and the rest of the government would lock him up on the principle of that!

    • Guest

      it’s not called “cheating the system”, it’s called “protest”. civil disobedience to be sure.

    • BLACK POWER

      well said.. I am in total agreement.. fan of L Boogie for life (with or without a beat)

  • bb

    what a douche. pay ya taxes

  • Postie

    I get the fully justified diatribe against Black oppression, both historical and current, I get the distrust/hatred of white power structures and I also get the resentment at being caught out not paying her taxes – let’s face it none of us love paying taxes but probably accept it as one of life’s certainties!

    However,as Geneus says – her argument doesn’t carry any weight because she has entirely bought into and benefited from those white power structures to make her money and facilitate her lifestyle up until now- Itunes, Youtube, MTV, Colombia records, Sony etc etc. In the case of Colombia records – as a company who has been around since 1888 and has made plenty money off the back of the exploitation of black artists with “race recordings” in segregated America during the ’20s and ’30s. The fact is that these are mostly all white owned corporate entities and are all very much a part of this system she is now slamming.

    The fact is this whole argument of hers would have had far more impact If it was a genuinely well thought out stand against a system she doesn’t agree with, involving her own considered personal sacrifice and made because of strongly held principles. Unfortunately as far as I am aware she wasn’t writing open letters prior to her being chased by the IRS. As such it comes across that she is saying what she is saying not because it is something that she passionately believes is a white orchestrated wrong against her people but because she has been personally caught out and is experiencing a sense of bitterness as a result.

    In conclusion she has not been chased by the IRS because she is black – she has been chased because she has benefited hugely from a system that has made her rich and required a contribution in return that she was fully aware of from day one. This letter ignores that and essentially makes the argument that the fact she is black and therefore can point to a history of oppression against her people, should negate her requirement to pay taxes. If we take this argument then the same could legitimately be said for Jewish people, gay people, Romany gypsies, illegal immigrants… well pretty much every non-white or minority person – and that simply does not hold up in my eyes!

    The irony is poor people in America need Lauryn Hill to pay taxes. By paying taxes amongst other things she will be supporting welfare, providing medical support and helping ensure the poorest sections of American society (which includes an awful lot of black people) are given the support they need to survive. If anyone can show me a country where the people don’t pay taxes but the government can still provide the infrastructure, oportunities and education to its people that is required to give them the opportunity make a success of their life to extent that Lauryn Hill has made a success of hers then please do.

    Unfortunately I don’t think anyone will be able to do so – so in my view, Lauryn should have paid her taxes and dedicated the 3 months she will now be spending in prison to using the platform she has earned through her talent to highlight how the government misspend the taxes she has paid, In my eyes the goal she should be striving for should not be to encourage individualistic and selfish avoidance of a financial contribution to society but to press the government to use that finance to create a society that is as near an equal playing field as possible for all human beings regardless of race, sexuality or creed or economic background. I think that would truly be an expression of her “love”.

    • Rockswell

      The idea is that at least she wants to empower us from the system she has had access too and certainly benefitted from. The audacity to use her platform to speak on these issues, given her obvious options, Lauryn Hill should be commended. I would call her not paying taxes – “Protest”; read – “civil disobedience” and she was willing to pay the dire consequences for her actions, albeit in protest all the while. People should stand up for what they believe in and ideally, share empowering messages to others about how they can address and stand up in support of their own beliefs. Ms. Hill surely benefits little in regard to her general safety and security for taking the stance she has on these matters and I will go so far as to say that in 25 years, we will view her position in “20/20″ hindsight. She will be matched with icons like Marley, Guevara, and I believe that is what she aspires to. This is simply one of her self-imposed sacrifices to speak freely and remain true to her cause.

  • Rob Wilson

    On the one head, I think the level of institutionalized racism in America is undeniable and must be faced.

    On the other hand, she really should’ve just shut the hell up and paid her taxes. Like, damn, we all gotta do it. You ain’t no more special, MISS Hill.

  • Marcus F.

    I commend Lauryn Hill for her thought provoking letter but I believe not paying you taxes is not the way to make a change. If she truly feels that we are opressed (which I agree) come up with a plan to make a change. Social rants don’t cut it for me with no action. Pay your taxes and figure how to a make a change instead of complaining. We all live here and we all have to pay our taxes.

  • TedBentley

    None of you all’s comments tell that you what she was saying. Everybody is saying “hey what she said was dope but the bxtch should have paid her taxes” no. She was saying that this and her whole situation is direct cause from that strife and suffering. That if what we went through didn’t happened shit, there wouldn’t be capitalism. All the great leaders, from Huey P. to Malcom X to Che Guevera tried to eliminate capitalism. Cause it’s not our system, who amongst you have had a say so in this system? No one. So no she wouldn’t have been in trouble for this, if she was white and and a corporate giant. Or better yet black and giving out ignorance to her people instead of truth. I get what she was saying, and yes fuck the system but don’t say fuck it by yourself Ms. Hill but don’t do it alone. Psshhh and to think her fans don’t even get it. To quote Kanye West ” I know that we the new slaves.”

  • LO

    Lauryn has been getting passes for too long. She’s a 38 year old mother of 37 and couldn’t put her family first to avoid going to jail? She’s been in a delusional state for years and doesn’t deserve a pass, or the ability of a multimillionaire to pull the ‘racism’ card.

  • Ottice J

    Glad someone finally has the nerve to address the elephant in the room: racism. In America, it’s like committing blasphemy when you explain America’s true history and not the ‘Eurocentric’ view that is thrown at us throughout public school.

    Perfect example would be ‘Christopher Columbus Day’, which is a slap in the face to any person of color. How can a land be ‘discovered’ if it’s already inhabited? And why celebrate a man who wiped out a whole population of people (Arawaks).

    The America’s were long inhabited by millions of native ‘indians’ and the Olmecs who preceded some of them.

    Required reading: James W. Loewen “Lies Across America: Everything your American History Textbooks Got Wrong”

  • Jaydee UK

    Lauryn articlulates herself wonderfully but has obviously never heard the saying two wrongs….What makes black people and any other race that has been oppressed great is the ability to rise above the injustices and do what we believe is right. To have an excuse to not to pay taxes is ok for multi millionaires but what about the average joe. If this was such an huge issue then why didn’t Lauryn speak out about this before she got caught. It is obvious for any outsider that having this worldwide influence weighs heavily on her heart and wish she could open that wonderful heart again and set us all free…