Can We Live?
June 23, 2005

A few weeks back, while viciously flipping through channels, I decided to pop-in on BET to see just what type of debacle Robert Johnson has left. While I generally associate a high degree of irrelevance and painful ignorance with every aspect of BET, I was shocked to see that in the midst of the mind-numbing, superficial self-glorification, was a music video that actually made me think. Can you even imagine thinking while watching a music video? Lately, it's unheard of, but every now and then, somebody gets it.

Nick Cannon's latest song/video, "Can I Live?"--a tribute to his mother, who at 17-years-old, considered aborting him, but chose to give him life--is by far one of the most creative and purposeful music videos of the year. Hands down. By coincidence I'm sure, it's fairly popular as well. With all the lemming behavior in the music industry, who would think creativity and a life-altering message could go so far? Cannon himself is barely a B-list artist, and by most peoples' critique, he isn't even a good rapper. Then again, neither is 50 Cent. Yet it's interesting how truth always stands up in the midst of a bunch of lies.

I've yet to see someone make a music video from the first person perspective of a child in the womb. If you haven't yet seen it, you can view it online on the frontpage of Nick Cannon's website. It won't take but a few minutes of your day. Watch it. It's important, and in a moment I'll say why.

If you've been around for a minute, then you know I'm a believer and exhorter in the unmatched potential of the hip hop generation. I don't believe music is evil, and I don't even think hip hop is evil. I believe people are bad and people make bad music. Which is simply to say that music is merely a reflection of what is or isn't inside the person who is making it. I've also long stated that as a whole, the black community is fairly socially conservative with abortion being one of the key issues to divide people. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that this video has been so popular on BET. Shocking is that it's being played on MTV, purveyors of all that is carnal. Apparently, people are listening.

In the past, few rappers and singers have accurately touched on the issue of abortion. Those who have, (Common and Nas to name a few) usually nullify their message via lifestyle and the general questionable content of their albums (think R. Kelly "You Saved Me"). Back in the 90s it became trendy for everyone to have at least one "moral" (under a relative definition, of course) song on their profanity-laced, raunchified albums. The trouble was, when you sandwich a song called "Pray" in between songs titled, "She's Soft and Wet" and "Yo!! Sweetness," you're bound to stir up some sort of confusion.

In case people haven't noticed, a double-minded message lacks power. The curse of my generation isn't that we don't have something to stand for; it's that we don't have the integrity to back it up. So while everything else Nick Cannon may do from here on out could be a total disaster (isn't he the same guy that made a song with R. Kelly called "Gigolo"?), it is my ultimate desire that he not do anything to jeopardize peoples' ability to receive the truth. Right now, he has my respect.

Perhaps even more interesting than Cannon's video is the buzz created by conservative media and anti-abortion groups (who at times can be just as opportunistic as the worst incarnation of Jesse Jackson). Why is it interesting? Because some of those who've praised Cannon's video are the same people who've stereotyped, vilified, and discounted the potential of the hip hop generation every step of the way. Meanwhile, I guarantee you that three minutes and thirty seconds of Nick Cannon pseudo rapping his life-story will touch far more people than an anti-abortion rally, a hokey billboard, or any crummy pro-life literature you try to shove at kids in the school parking lot. PETA has already claimed that territory.

Hello? Has anyone been paying attention? No one cares. That's right, no one. No one cares that every year millions of women pay to have their babies murdered. No one cares that it's a business. No one cares that every human being has a purpose and a destiny. No one cares that it's evil, and no one cares that it's wrong. Those that do have already been won. Let's stop doing the same thing, expecting different results.

So what will it take to touch the next generation of potential child-killers? It will require that the message be made relevant. Here's a hint to pro-lifers: relevant might not look like you. Moreover, it probably doesn't sound like you either. This is America folks, not the GOP (contrary to popular belief, the two are not synomous).

So it seems many conservatives are just as guilty of the double-mindedness that is so typical of my generation. In fact, everyone from every political angle is guilty at some point or another. Aren't Christians the same ones applauding Mel Gibson, doing 6-part series Bible lessons on "The Matrix" and simultaneously cursing all of Hollywood? In this case, conservatives want to piggy back on anything and everything that will trumpet the cause of the moment. Never mind that six weeks ago we were whipping that same back we're now riding. We have forgotten that all that's been perverted can most certainly be redeemed.

For those who wish to be influential beyond "Left" and "Right" thinking, there is a subtext to "Can I Live?". Nick Cannon's video is just the tip of a very large and colorful iceberg. In a multi-sensory generation, the winner of this game is the one who can infiltrate the fastest. My 16-year-old brother does his homework while watching television, listening to his iPod and instant messaging his friends. This should tell us something about the power of media. The garden is ripe.

My advice? Commit to winning over those who have within them, the ability to influence far more than a political party ever could. Because if there's one thing I know: there is a large section of tomorrow's leaders who aren't interested in sipping the political agenda kool-aid. No; they're after truth, however it is fed.

"Can I Live?" Lyrics

Others Sound-Off:

- The Black Informant
- Evangelical Outpost
- BlackAmericaWeb
- Apologia Chrisi (one commenter says politics and music shouldn't mix)
- An interesting post-abortion journal entry (lang. warning)
- WorldNetDaily

Posted by Ambra at June 23, 2005 2:31 AM in Abortion ,Culture ,Music ,Pop Culture
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Again. Great piece. If you were "the representation" of "Black conservatives", there would be no name calling.

Seriously.

Kanya West has a rap out that touches on the idea of conflict diamonds and the "ice" culture of rap. The remix version has JayZee ending the rap. He totally destroys a great concept.

My mom, who works at a crisis pregnancy centre, came home last week very excited and insisting I watch this video. She told me that a lot of the girls they see have been talking about it, so hopefully it's having a positive effect.

As with anything like this, there's always the worry it will be overused and have somewhat of a backlash. I imagine it has touched and probably saved some lives already though.

I've been reading for a while by the way, and just want to say thanks for being a thoughtful, intelligent, and relevant voice, and for not compromising your opinions to please anyone.

"Here's a hint to pro-lifers: relevant might not look like you. Moreover, it probably doesn't sound like you either. This is America folks, not the GOP (contrary to popular belief, the two are not synomous)."

Ouch! You trying to say something to us fly-over red-staters?

We have a mandate to preach the Gospel to all nations. Perhaps we need to consider covering more parts inside the nation as well. This rap song sounds like a good method of changing one heart at a time since abortion will not be legislated away (as much as we hoped it could be).

[PS I tried to post a comment yesterday on your Michael Jackson post, but it would not accept it - something about questionable content. Can you explain the filters and what we should avoid? Glad to see you're back.]

Two points: 1) If you want to accuse right-to-lifers are lacking in the consistency ethic, you are correct. The problem is, you can accuse any human who ever existed and be correct.

2) Your assertion that we need to package the message in a more effective manner is correct. One can always improve the marketing of an issue. Duh.

If you wish to condemn the RTL movement due to these sins, I suggest you look in the mirror. While I find you to be exceptionally intelligent and wonderful, millions who need to be reached do not.

Is it your fault that your writings are not more widely disseminated? No. Nor is it on RTL that the message is not better distributed among big media.

Better to urge all good people to righteous causes than be hyper-critical, Ambra.

Peace and love to you.

Ed, first off, take off your defensive jacket. It's obstructing your view.

Ed wrote: "If you want to accuse right-to-lifers are lacking in the consistency ethic, you are correct. The problem is, you can accuse any human who ever existed and be correct."

Minor correction Ed. The problem isn't what you've asserted; it's that you didn't read the post. See paragraph #10, first sentence, words 1-34 in which I wrote: "So it seems many conservatives are just as guilty of the double-mindedness that is so typical of my generation. In fact, everyone from every political angle is guilty at some point or another."

Ed wrote: Your assertion that we need to package the message in a more effective manner is correct. One can always improve the marketing of an issue. Duh. If you wish to condemn the RTL movement due to these sins, I suggest you look in the mirror.
Let me clarify a few points. #1, I did not condemn. Since this is a blog of a Christian, let's use Biblical precedence in the understanding of the word "condemn." In context, condemnation has never been associated with calling people to a higher standard. No; it's equated to damning someone or speaking to a lack of potential. Jesus never condemned. His words may have convicted, but I assure you they never condemned, because condemnation doesn't come from God. Thereforce, I find it often the case that people who feel condemned can feel so without it having anything to do with person they feel did the condemning. If this weren't the case, we wouldn't need scriptures reminding us that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

So if you feel condemnation, or you feel the above admonition is condemning, I regret to tell you, that is more than likely, a personal issue, and not one I've provoked here.

What I have done is point out a perceived flaw (or to use your words, "a sin," which according to the Bible, simply means to "miss the mark"). So yes, I believe pro-lifers (myself included) have missed the mark in the area of relevancy. I ask, why is it so often that someone from "the outside" comes up with innovative ideas? Why does it seem conservatives and Christians always on the tail end of trends? That's another post in and of itself. These are just a few questions to ponder, and ones spoken out of love and concern that people would awake from unconsciousness and take action. You mentioned "love." Love manifests itself in many ways, among which are chastisement, a firm word, and correction.

Ed wrote:"While I find you to be exceptionally intelligent and wonderful, millions who need to be reached do not. Is it your fault that your writings are not more widely disseminated? No. Nor is it on RTL that the message is not better distributed among big media. Better to urge all good people to righteous causes than be hyper-critical, Ambra."
Strawmen arguments don't go far here. Is it my fault my writings are not more widely disseminated? Yes and no. It depends on my expressed purpose. You see, we are all called to the Earth for a specific purpose. I know why this weblog exists and my calling (on the internet) isn't necessarily to reach every person on the Earth. This is one dimension of who I am. I am however, called to reach a specific group of people with my message (on the internet). Notice my parentheticals of "on the internet" indicate that there is a specific purpose for Nykola.com, but Nykola.com isn't Ambra; it's one of Ambra's crops. So if I am not doing all I can to be relevant in ensuring my message reaches the people I know it is supposed to reach, then yes, I am at fault. Would I be at fault that my weblog's popularity hasn't reached the world? No. That's not my calling (on the Internet).

As for the pro-life movement (of which I am a part), there is something bigger here at stake. There isn't a select group of people who need to hear the message--everyone does. The "right to life" isn't a cliche. It's God's word. It's truth. And when the lie is reeking havoc on the Earth, truth needs to be trumpeted from every corner of the land. So you ask, are pro-lifers responsible for not reaching more people with their message? Absitudalutely.

Moreover, I foreshadowed this assertion by being critical of my own generation's double-mindedness (Paragraphs 5 & 6). If calling us to a higher standard means I'm being hyper-critical, then get me a matching hat so I can wear the label in style. It'll go well with "too moral" "too feminine" and "too traditional." I wear those too ya know ;-)

Thanks for your thoughts.

This is a much different take on the subject of abortion, and rather refreshing to hear a positive message like this in Hip Hop. A year ago there was some debate over the lyrics by Joe Budden in the remix of "Confessions", a song by Usher (which received a lot more airplay than Nick Cannon is):

"...Pray that she abort that,
If she's talkin' 'bout keepin' it,
One hit to the stomach,
She's leakin' it..."

I like Cannon's message much more, but it is a rare one in Hip Hop music. If only people would support the positive and encourage more of it.

http://www.blackgenocide.org and http://www.blackgenocide.com


You should check out these sites, the information on both is so important for us to know right now.

It's crazy how much has changed since the last time I saw you. I feel like I have given over my whole life to the issue of life. Lately the Lord has just been really giving me his heart for the unborn. I have been really seeing how these children are his future worshippers, teachers, leaders and lovers. His has such a wonderful destiny for them and he wants them to live out his purposes on this earth. My eyes have also been awakened to how destructive abortion is to the women as well. I have been working with crisis pregnancy centers, going to abortion clinics, speaking at churches about abortion ..and so on. In the process of all of that I have meet so many women who's lives have been destroyed from abortion. Some have wanted to just die from the emotional pain they suffered after the death of their child. For those who aborted while having other children it has affected they way the are as a mother and the way the relate to their other children.

The sad thing is that the church really doesn't talk about the issue. There are so many women in church who will have abortions because there's not teaching on how wrong it is in the eyes of God. And on the other hand there are many women who are in church who need healing from previous abortions. Many women are hurting and need to know God will forgive them and set them free from the guilt and shame they struggle with. Saddly these women remain bound for years because no one ever talks about this in the church.

But now that is staring to change. I dont know if you know Lou Engle but he was the man who ran the Calls..there were 7 of them in the U.S..they were gathering for prayer and fasting. Well anyway the Lord spoke to him a while back and told him that for the rest of his life he would fight to see abortion overturned. He has started this wonderful prayer movement that involves people gathering outside of abortion clinics all over the country not to protest, but to pray. They pray with red tape over their mouth to represent the silent cries of the unborn. The site is www.bound4life.com Its amazing how much prayer really moves the heavens and changes hearts. One group of people prayed outside a Kansas City Clinic for 21 days straight 10-12 hours a day. They recieved so much from the Lord and saw him move in so many ways..for info on that you can go to www.bound4lifekc.com.

I really feel this is an area where the church can not remain silent. I personally want to speak to the African American church as much as I can. I feel that this issue is one we can no ignore any more. An african american women is 3 times more likely to have an abortion that a white woman and right now in Washington there are more black babies dying ever year from abortion that babies being born. Martin Luther King Jrs. niece has a pro life movement and one of her major messages is focused on " How can the dream survive, if we are killing our children? I wonder the same thing.

I love Nick Cannons video because thats my story. My mom walked out of an abortion clinic and seeing that video makes me so thankful for the courage she had and the faith.

I was at this church service a while back and a women came up to me and told me " The Lord wants you to know that your life was never an accident, and it was never a mistake..He wanted you". She said " He wanted you" over and over again and after she left I was talking to God about it. I was like " Lord, I know I wasn't a mistake, why did she tell me that? The Lord showed me that it had to do with the attempted abortion. He wanted to remind me that no matter He has always wanted me and that he knew me before I was born. The more I think about that the more I realize that that is the case with every single child. Even if no one else wants them, he does. Theres a scripture in Isaiah that says "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; our walls are ever before me.

Hey Christina,

HOW ARE YOU???!! Anyway, of course I know who Lou Engle is...get with it sweetie ;-)

Anyway, yes I will be checking out those sites. And a wholehearted Amen to everything you just said. Enough staying silent on the issue. Time for those who know the truth to become bold beyond belief.

Unrelated note, I think I'm coming to Connecticut in August (as usual) for a quick trip. Email me offline...I miss you guys.

your words silence. me thank you for this. my husband was given up for adoption. whenever I see things like this I think of him and I'm thankful for another option.
and to this:
" there is a large section of tomorrow's leaders who aren't interested in sipping the political agenda kool-aid. No; they're after truth, however it is fed"

AMEN!

anyway, many blessings!
Jewels

Thank you so much for posting this. I haven't heard any of it play on the radio yet, and I don't have cable, so I was completely in the dark. His video moved me deeply.

I hope that what happened to Seals and Croft, doesn't happen to him.

just discovered your fantastic blog and I will be back often, hopefully with the type of comments that your thought provoking and well written entries deserve!

As I mentioned in my post linking here, hip hop and rap are not generally on my play list. Thank you for pointing me towards this moving and powerful video.

When I posted, my trackback ping got "denied for questionable content." Is Oscar still being grouchy, or is my blog questionable?

I think the New silocon bracelets are cool if you have wwjd on them. There is a lot of places on the net that talks about it like www.kidsonamission4god.com

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City