Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason

By Derrick Darby; Tommie Shelby | Go to book overview

6
“F**k tha Police “State””:
Rap, Warfare, and the
Leviathan

JOY JAMES


The Police State

In Leviathan, published in 1651, political philosopher Thomas Hobbes asserts that the true social contract is about law and order, and killing. Hobbes is (in)famous for his assertion that life is “nasty, brutish, and short.” The life expectancy for the European male in the seventeenth century was thirty-eight years.1 Although the life expectancy for African American males in the twenty-first century has surpassed that, recent studies noted that one in twelve fifteen-year-old African American males living in Washington, D.C. could expect to be murdered before the age of forty-five.2 For some, Hobbes was prescient but back to the social contract.

Hobbes asserts that men who “live without a common Power to keep them all in awe are in that condition which is called

1 See Pat Thane, “Social Histories of Old Age and Aging,” Journal of'Social
History
37, No. 1 (Fall 2003), pp. 93–111.

2 Based, on 1998 data generaled from U.S. death records and compiled by the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the average 15-year-old U.S. male faces a 1-
in-185 probability of being murdered before reaching age 45. Nationally, a
similarly aged black male faces an average l-in-45 probability that he will be
murdered before reaching age 45; an average white male faces a l-in-345
probability of murder before age 45. See Gareth G. Davis and David B.
Mulhausen, “Young African-American Males: Continuing Victims of High
Homicide Rates in Urban Communities,” Center for Dala Analysis Report #00-
05 (2nd May, 2000), http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/CDA00–05.cfm
(25th August, 2004).

-65-

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