NAACP or NWA:
Buryin' the "C" Word
Min. Paul Scott
And the things we write are always true, Sucka
Get a grip, now we're talkin' about you.
Talkin' All That Jazz-Stetsasonic
Every family has an Aunt Ruth, the Sista who shows up at every funeral dissin’ everybody who walks in the church. Unlike your other pompous and overly pretentious family members, "Ant" Ruth keeps it real. If it wasn't for her you wouldn't have known about Uncle Clarence's chick on the side or that prim and proper, Aunt Hazeline was a superfreak back in tha day. I can see Aunt Ruth at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's "mock" funeral for the "N" word as the NAACP dignitaries do the funeral march to greet the mourning Hip Hop family. She would be in the back pew, rolling her eyes, sucking her teeth and whispering. "Them bougie N****** ain't never liked our family, no way!"
Let's get this out the way from the jump. I'm not down with using the "N" word and frankly, if I was rollin' through tha hood and saw the NAACP scrappin' with G Unit, I'd just grab a big bag of chips and a Big Gulp and watch. However, in wrestling terms, this is more like a triple threat match between the old school Civil Rights Leaders, the commercial "gangsta" rappers and the Hip Hop activists all vying for the coveted World Championship of Black Culture.
It’s a tough question but someone has to ask it...Is it really fair to come down on tha Brotha's for using the "N" word, when in 2007, you still refer to Black folks as "colored people?"
Is there a real qualitative difference between the name NWA (N***** With Attitude) and the NAACP? I guarantee you that most rappers will not put up half the fight over the "N" word as the folks in the NAACP would if folks demanded that they take "colored" out of their title.
While many can trace the history of Hip Hop from its South Bronx origins most people are totally oblivious to the history of the NAACP. While many people automatically assume that it was always a "black thing", in reality, the first members of the NAACP were white, including the early presidents. Also, the integrationists of the NAACP fought against the self empowerment movement of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.
Although many people argue (and rightly so) that corporations have ruined Hip Hop, it must be stated that white philanthropists/corporations have always invested heavily in the NAACP from its inception until this very day and as the old saying goes "who ever pays the piper picks the tune." I find ironic that the most notorious "gangsta" rapper, 50 cent is promoting bottled vitamin water while the NAACP promotes Anheuser Busch, the company responsible for the "hood" drink King Cobra Malt Liquor.
So, commercial Hip Hop and the NAACP have a lot in common. The NAACP had a white man as its first president and Hip Hop had Vanilla Ice. Many of the West Coast Rappers repped St. Ides while the NAACP rep's Budweiser. The rappers drink Moet and Hennessy the NAACP gets money from Moet Hennessy USA. Hip Hop headz give R. Kelly video awards and the NAACP gives R. Kelly Image Awards for songs like "I Wish) that dropped the "N" bomb a couple of times. Not to mention the remix that set a new world's record for "N" bombastics in 2001.
While some old heads may not understand the "stop snitchin' code" in Hip Hop, it must be noted that the Black community's hatred for rats is rooted in the actions of people like the former chairman of the board of the NAACP, Joel Spingarn, who according to an article in the March 21, 1993 edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, started spying on the NAACP for the Military Intelligence Division during WWI..
While some may see this article as another attempt at hip hopapologeics, it is not. This is an attempt to expand the dynamics of this country's long awaited "great conversation on race" that was supplanted by a "weak conversation about the evils of Hip Hop." What could have been a discussion about anything ranging from white male dominance in the media to the historical disrespect of black women quickly devolved into a weak, long drawn out discussion about rappers and dirty words.
What is most disturbing about the post Imus anti-Hip Hopism is that a movement to give Black children an analysis of Hip Hop by activists of their same age group was hijacked by Civil Rights activists trying to prove to white America that they were still relevant. Don't get it twisted, a Black leader is only as good his number of constituents, either real or imagined. That's is why some of them feel the need to continuously hold march after march after march.
The one great equalizer of the universe is TRUTH, no one is above it ; no one is below it. This TRUTH is a double-edged sword, it cuts on the right and the left.
Should Black people refer to themselves as the "N" word. No, but we ain't "colored" either.
Should rappers be criticized for their actions? Sure, but we also need new Black leadership.
Should we be having a conversation in 2007 about the effect of Hip Hop on Black children? Of course, but a similar critique of the NAACP is about 90 years past due.
So, as the NAACP carries out its burial of the "N" word, let us remember the saying "TRUTH crushed to the earth shall rise again."
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott is a writer and activist based in Durham NC. His blog is http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com
He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 email: firstname.lastname@example.org