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Whitey On The Moon By Gil Scot-Heron

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

1974 | Spoken Word

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"Was all that money I made las' year (for Whitey on the moon?) -- How come there ain't no money here? (Hm! Whitey's on the moon) -- Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill (of Whitey on the moon.) -- I think I'll sen' these doctor bills, Airmail special (to Whitey on the moon.)"

Trivia

  • GSH was the son of an opera singer & a soccer player. His father was the first black player for the Celtic Football Club in Glasgow.
  • Many consider GSH to be the first progenitor of Hip-Hop and the Emcee as a musical form.
  • Starting in 2001 GSH life was plagued by legal isssues stemming from his use and posession of controlled substances.

THE HOT TAKES

Luke Tatum

Okay, I honestly did not expect that we would have any anti-NASA songs on the list. Surprise, surprise! Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. Gil poetically covers the issue of differences in status between blacks and whites. He makes some excellent points here, ever-so-gently nudging us to consider many other problems, too: "Taxes taking my whole damn check; Junkies making me a nervous wreck; The price of food is going up..." Of course, these are things that many black people in the mainstream today are all too happy to ignore. Why discuss taxation, the causes of price inflation, or the effects drugs and the drug war? No, instead the word from the pundits is that government needs more power. The truth--that government has utterly butchered all previous attempts to solve other problems--is conveniently swept under the rug. This song is written from the perspective of a man who is living in poor conditions. He has every right to question if "all that money [he] made last year" was for whitey on the moon. In short: we must look at not only the effects of government action, (landing men on the moon) but also the costs (NASA's budget far exceeded 40 billion dollars in a year at its peak during the Space Race).

Sherry Voluntary

This minimalist song deals with the juxtaposition of a minority person who is living in a time when people are elated about the moon landing, while his concerns are a lot more terrestrial. Knowing how much money and effort has been put into getting men on the moon makes the sadness he is feeling in his desperate situation even more palpable. While I don’t believe in the legitimacy of forced taxation, I also understand the very human feeling of how twisted it is that if “they” can pay for something that has abstract benefits with money taken from people who are already struggling. This song is such a good illustration of how The State creates resentment in people and then that resentment often turns them to call for the victimization of others to correct the wrong done to them. While we should never forget the real people that are affected and harmed by State violence and have compassion for them, we also have to continue to teach libertarian principles that show the answer to those government problems is not more government, but getting the government out of their lives, allowing them to retain all of their income and be in charge of all aspects of their own lives. That is real empowerment.

Nicky P

So, i'll admit i'm a little turned off by the racial lens with which GSH chose to take this particular piece but there's a degree to which I can blame that on the obvious ways in which racial stratification and division has manifested in our culture. I would venture a guess that most of us would see it as a product of socio-economic stratification that tends to break along racial lines and perhaps has more to do with history and culture than racism. But while he was approaching the song from his lived experience it is without question applicable on the broader human condition. The question is as huge and timeless as it is pointed and pertinent. When I look out at any government program and at the money stolen from myself and those around me I have to ask the question, why? What better life conditions could GSH or myself have with our money being spent on those who earned it. I'm sure that to anyone working and watching their gains be drained away, a bunch of men standing on a rock out in space couldn't be a bigger middle finger. We may have different reasons but I'll stand by the man asking that question. To help the poor? Sounds like the author of this piece was the poor and he got a glimpse of exactly who his money went to help and it wasn't the downtrodden next to him.

Created By
Nicky P
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