Race is the elephant in the living room of the United States.
We all know that race sits on the couch, yet many of us choose to ignore it. Many of us talk about it to death. Many of us have learned to live with it ... We've fed it, provided water for it to drink and cleaned up the crap left on the floor. Nevertheless, this elephant is messing up our furniture, leaving its prints in the floor and breaking the ceiling; and we continue to house it, rather than deal with it -- putting race in its proper place.
Race impacts how we view the world -- for better or for worse. Man has sought out differences to distinguish himself from those who surround him. In the United States, we use both race and class, as was done in Europe, Africa and Asia throughout history to separate themselves from each other. We also use religion in the same way. For example, Jews, Christians and Muslims claim to distinguish themselves from the rest of humanity via their belief system which impacts their behavior. It's all about status; it's about ego; it's about survival of the fittest. Man will prop himself up over his brother to secure his perceived needs and assumed desires. Race is just another variable used to achieve the desired result of both the superior and inferior group. It's not a matter of tangible prejudice as much as it is a case of common human behavior.
Indeed when Black people are around other Black people, they talk about White people, Latinos and whoever else. The same with White people, Latinos, Asians and any other ethnic group. We can argue this when it comes to a case by case basis but when considered as a group, when prompted, racial groups discuss other racial groups. When discussing other racial groups, the discussion group has the ability to be candid and forthright; they can speak their mind. Such conversations in the general public, amongst members of other racial groups, would be considered insensitive, out of line and distasteful. Honest criticisms are seen as harsh - not because of the delivery of the message but because of the deliverer of the message. In life, we do things that conjure up conversations amongst each other. We also create conversation amongst people we don't know or people who we normally wouldn't speak to. If that is true, then we can agree that actions seen as either good or bad are talked about by all peoples and they are discussed in confidence amongst specified racial groups. White folks do things to get the other races talking amongst each other, Black folks do things to get the other races talking amongst each other, and so do other racial groups. Trust and believe that when Phil Mushnick made these comments about Shawn Carter's ownership of the nets, there were others who were thinking it:
"As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----he's or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!"
Immediately, Black folks cried racism and I am sure some White people, Latinos and whoever else were thinking, "Here we go again." You best believe that many Non-Black people believe that Black folk cry race more than the little boy cried wolf. To play devil's advocate, many of those same people are either ignorant about or unaware of our nation's history and the institution of White privilege and how its subconscious form dominates our conscious existence. But today, I am going to take the stance of personal responsibility in the case of Mushnick. If we, the African American community, wish to see the media ridded of such ignorance, we can no longer tolerate ignorance from amongst each other -- ignorance to be paraded for a dollar. It is one thing to not comb your hair and be called a nappy-headed H** ( on national radio (that's racist and sexist) and it's another thing to yell out B ***h, N***a and h** and get satirized about it in the media. In this case, the latter is not like the former.
I did the research: Phil Mushnick has his history of foolish comments that are racially charged. He's criticized Stuart Scott for being too friendly and Stephen A. Smith for using what I like to call the "hood vernacular," as if other racial and ethnic groups don't speak with their own vernacular expressly unique with respect to tone, cadence and contextual understanding. His comments about Shawn Carter, however ignorant sounding and tasteless, shouldn't surprise anyone -- not because Mushnick is a racist, but because ignorant stimuli produce ignorant reactions. Has Shawn Carter evolved as an artist to the point where he is no longer the worst offender of objectifying women and glorifying drugs and violence in urban-America, it depends on your opinion of his music. However, the more important question is have we, African America, evolved as consumers and determiners of our own culture or have we devolved to consumers of capitalism; compromising our culture and values for the almighty dollar - then get mad when "one of our own" is criticized for a tasteless depiction of blackness masqueraded as "results" from growing up in the hood?
Here is a piece of advice for all parties involved: Mushnick should take inventory of the industry that creates personas like Jay-Z and others like him -- the promotion of all manipulated aspects of the cultures of poverty and success in urban settings is way bigger than Jay-Z could ever be. Anyone angered at Mushnick's comments, particularly African Americans, should never get the line between art and faux pas confused. Cursing and negative racial epithets in rap lyrics don't denote ignorance ... failing to recognize our part in allowing ignorance to take place however does.
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