Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Some Black Folks Don't Vote

Why Black Folks Don't Vote

Paul Scott

"Politics and hypocrites turning us all into lunatics..."

"You're the Man" Marvin Gaye

I was hangin' at the spot a while back with one of the homies when he asked me to fill out a voter registration form.

"You know I ain't votin'," I said in faux anger.

(This year, I was joking. Other years, I have been dead serious.)

All of the sudden, I turned around and was face to face with an Obama-ite pointing her finger about an inch away from my nose. "You're ancestors died so you can have the right to vote," she yelled in a voice usually reserved for someone who went too far with a "yo mama is so fat" joke.

Now usually, that would have been a good opportunity to engage someone in a debate about the short comings of the two party system but this lady was seriously about to give me a beat down so I cruised on out the door mouthin' a weak...

"I was just playin'..."

Every four years, black folks are bombarded with dark tales of the Apocalypse. If every black person in America doesn't vote and vote for the Democratic Party, something very wicked this way comes. And any black person who even dares to question the relevance of voting risks being tarred and feathered and run out of tha hood.

At the risk of blasphemy, I have to say that even in this election year there is a sizable part of the African American population that doesn't vote or questions the dedication of either the Donkey or the Elephant in solving the problems of the non middle class black community. What bothers me most is that the same folks who wouldn't engage in any conversation deeper than a discussion over the latest Tyler Perry movie or who's going to win the Super Bowl have now become overnight political scientists.

I mean, the same folks who you couldn't drag to a school board meeting, six months ago and couldn't find their way to City Hall if you paid them are now threatening to round up black folks and march them to the polls en mass at gunpoint on November 4th. While the stereotype of a non voting black person is an apathetic bum who sits around the crib all day playing PlayStation and eating Fruit Loops straight out the box, many vote virgins have a good reason for abstinence.

But instead of asking the simple question "Why don't you vote ?" We come up with urban legends and doomsday sayings such as "vote or die" which may scare Tyrone into taking five minutes out of his day to go to the polls but does not, in anyway, make him more politically educated. The myth that our ancestors died so we could vote doesn't quite match up with historical facts.

If you look at the whole Civil Rights Era, voting was simply a means to an end. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a staunch advocate for the poor who caught hell regardless of who was in office. Also it must be noted that much of his activism was under the Kennedy/Johnson Administration which, by the way, allowed the FBI to bug his phone. And these were supposed to be the good guy Democrats. Also, one cannot forget Malcolm X's stern warning about the "Dixiecrats."

Secondly, while the idea of a great conspiracy to deprive black folks of their rights to vote has merit, many times it is overblown. While history is full of instances of threats, poll taxes and other tricks of disenfranchisement, in reality voting is a necessary evil in a Democracy. As I heard a news commentator say one time, " voting is a Democracy's alternative to rioting in the streets." The promise of a vote, in and of itself, substantially changing the reality of the poor is needed to keep the natives from getting restless. That is why the urban legend of black folks losing their right to vote every 25 years is laughable. However, the same people who would dismiss the idea that the CIA had something to do with drugs being brought into Los Angeles believe this conspiracy theory, whole heartedly.

Thirdly, the idea that the world will end on November 4th if the Democratic candidate of choice does not win points more at short sightedness than political sophistication. I guarantee Conservatives are having meetings all over the country coming up with a plan B, while many black folks are planning the big election night victory party at Magic Fingers Strip Club.

It must be noted that the "angry white man" reaction to the Democratic victory in '92 gave rise to the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. We must also remember that while black dj's were busy debating who had the better rappers, the East Coast or the West Coast, Right Wing radio was becoming a major political force. It must be noted that for every one Hip Hop radio station that plays the latest Lil Wayne jam, there are five conservative talk radio stations that feature Bill O'Reilly, Mike Savage and Neil Bortz 24 hours a day.

Also, although the efforts of Hip Hoppers and black radio stations to get young black folks to vote should be applauded, after the election, Conservative radio will go into over-drive plotting the Republican Revolution (The Sequal), while black radio will go back to playing "booty bounce, booty bounce," in continuous rotation.

As a matter of full disclosure, I already early voted but my decision was not based on some messianic vision of a political Promise Land. Call me shallow, but the Right Wing's fear of Obama rollin' like Robin Hood; stickin' it to the rich and giving to the poor made me (an Independent) 'rep for the Democrats this year. Not to mention, the thrill of the possibility of seeing Sean Hannity's mug having to announce the selection of the first black president was a little hard to resist.

However, I am under no illusion that anything will change unless the black community finds a way to harness the energy that was generated during the election and ration it out over the next four years in daily doses.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance."

Word up!

Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lies, Lacrosse and Lynch Mobs

Lies, Lacrosse and Lynch Mobs

Paul Scott

"When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live..."

Paul McCartney

Black people have to be the most forgiving bunch of folks on the planet. No matter what you do to us we base our philosophy on the scripture that talks about turning the other cheek. However, when white folks feel that their rights have been violated in any way, shape, form or fashion they quickly turn to the gospel according to the "48 Laws of Power;" "Crush Your Enemies Totally."

See, the shelf life of black rage is about 30 days. Do anything against black folks you wish. Call them nappy heady ho's, beat them to a pulp at a routine traffic stop or drag them down a country road strapped to the bumper of a pick up truck and a month later you can still be the best of buds. Sure the first couple of days there will be the usual group temper tantrum, they will organize insurrections around the water cooler and some black leader will go on TV selling wolf tickets about the great calamity that will happen if justice isn't given. But a few Human Relations Commission Unity shin digs and a couple of corporate donations to civil rights organizations later and all is right with the world.

Remember the shining example of human rights violations, Rodney King is not remembered for standing on top of an over turned police cruiser with a Molotov cocktail yellin' "Burn Baby Burn!"

Naw, he will go down in history for whimperin' the immortal words...

"Can't we all just get along?"

White folks, especially the wealthy, ain't like that. Step on their toes and they will spend every waking moment plotting your demise. It may take a day, it may take a week...It may be 20 years from now but one day you bite into your slice of fruitcake at the company Christmas party and then BAM!!!! Payback is a mutha....

(Anyone who thinks that I am being a teensy, weensy bit paranoid, obviously has never had economic sanctions leveled against his cubicle at work or had his cable suddenly disconnected during the Super Bowl for no reason at all.)

Such is the case of "the accuser", Crystal Gail Mangum who, in 2006 made international headlines when she alleged that members of the Duke Lacrosse team did some unthinkable things to her at a party.

For the first few days after the stuff hit the fan, there were efforts all over Durham, to let cooler heads prevail. As long as public opinion was riding high that some freaky deeky stuff happened the appeals for forgiveness were deafening. However, when the pendulum began to swing the other way, all bets were off. It was not long before lawsuits were flying left and right and when the bloggers found out the name of the accuser it spread through the blogosphere like a cyber wildfire. '

Even after district attorney Mike Nifong's career was ruined and Mangum's name was trashed before the world, that wasn't enough. To quote Vincent Clark, the publisher of Mangum's new book "The Last Dance for Grace," "

"It is not enough to win, we have to kill you."

Even worst are the death threats that Clark says that he and Mangum have been receiving. Black folks may cuss you out but death threats aren't our methods of operation.

Don't get me wrong, I think the whole forgive and forget thing is a little over rated, myself. But let's have some balance here. Let's have a little more civility than the folks at a Sarah Palin campaign rally.

White folks have done some ill stuff to black folks over the years, to say the least. Many of the worst racists and bigots have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, US senators, etc and but you don't see many of us holding a grudge. All it takes is an apology and a Sunday morning visit to a black church and all is forgiven. And those of us who don't suffer from historical amnesia are always accused of "livin' in the past, " even when we bring up atrocities that happened just last month.

So why all the hatin' over the fact that Mangum is releasing a book ?

Who knows what darkness that lies in the hearts of men was released on Buchanan Street that dark winter night in March 2006?

Only the Shadow knows and the people who were at the party.

I don't know 'cause I wasn't there and 9 out of 10, you weren't there either. So my beef isn't with Mangum, Silegmann, Finnerty or Evens.

My beef is with the members of the Lacrosse lynch mob that have been calling for the head of Crystal Mangum, for years and are still sharpening their hatchets right now..

Let me say here that if Mangum was really assaulted, she deserves to tell her story till justice runs down like a mighty stream and in the same manner if the Lacrosse players were, indeed, falsely accused they should be filing lawsuits from now to kingdom come. But that's between them. The rest of the population needs to chill...Find a hobby. Get on with your lives....

If you can't back off Crystal Mangum, don't hate on me for using a poster of Jesse Helms for a dart board.

Don't expect us to forgive and forget while your motto is, to borrow from the knighted ex-Beatle, "to live and let die..."

Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283

Monday, October 20, 2008 Exclusive Interview with "The Last Dance for Grace" Publisher

Because of the controversy surrounding the release of Crystal Gail Mangum's new book, "The Last Dance for Grace," No Warning Shots asked publisher, Vincent Clark to respond to these questions.

NWSF: Why did you decide to publish the book ?

Clark: I decided the publish the book because the longer I worked with Crystal, the more I knew she needed a way to express herself. A lot of people showed up in Durham claiming to want to help her but most were looking to make a quick buck. They wanted Crystal to sell her rights for a movie or do a TV interview on one of the network shows.

From the time I started working with her, we were concentrating on getting her to graduate, put food on the table and take care of the kids. When she finally had enough for a book, the few publishers it was pitched to either declined or just didn't respond at all. I decided that the book needed to come out so I started my own publishing company. That fit right into what I wanted to do anyway. I was already doing documentary films and working on getting people's story out.

A lot of people who are criticizing me for publishing the book don't know anything about my motives. I have worked on a number of stories behind the scenes and it is unlikely anyone would have known who I was had it not been for the nature of this case. However, I stand by my reason for publishing this book. It is an important story but not for the reasons many people think.

It really is a story about forgiveness, redemption and atonement. Those concepts are the pillars of the three major religions most of us profess to follow. Even if you aren't religious, we should have the capacity to view issues from a place of reason. Most people haven't been reasonable about this case.

NWSF: What is Ms. Mangum's purpose for writing the book ?

Clark: Crystal wrote the book as a personal catharsis and as a way to help people. She has always written poetry and kept a journal. She was writing about what was going on to try and help her move forward. She had no intention on sharing most of this with the wider word. Some of the revelations are tough to make. The book makes you uncomfortable reading it and stays with you a long time. It is because it is almost like transferring all of the hurt and disappointment form Crystal's life into your body and soul. It make it hard for you to go to sleep for days.

I've been working with her for close to two years and her story is very powerful. I'm glad she did decide to write it. I believe every teenager and young adult woman should read it. Men should too but they have to have an open heart and mind. Crystal says she wants to help people. Well, I think she is going to help a lot of young women not make some very serious mistakes.

NWSF: What reaction have you gotten from people in Durham and around the country ?

Clark: Of course we have gotten a lot of negative stuff. Some of it even threatening. That is a shame. Only a few people have seen the manuscript and the one's who have recognize that it is not a hit piece on Duke or any of the boys. It is a very well reasoned look into how cases like this turn into spectacle. It is as much a critique of the media and attitudes as anything else. Right now, we are running about 50%/50% when it comes to support and criticism. The only problem for me is that the people who are against it are very scary people. I'm not personally afraid but I do fear for Crystal and her family. It is really ashamed that people can't think rationally.

NWSF: As a long time resident of the Triangle and a social and political commentator , do you believe that the book has the power to divide this community or has this community ever truly been united?

Clark: There is no reason for this book to divide the community. When people read it, they we see immediately that it strikes a balance and is very conciliatory. Look, I believe the people with the loudest mouth get the attention. I don't necessarily believe that what we have heard so far from the flame throwers is the true feeling of the community. The people in Durham and throughout North Carolina are much smarter and thoughtful than people think. I want to believe after people read this, the prevailing thought will be that this was the beginning of the end to all of the rhetoric and division. I believe that because nobody ever stepped up to provide a counter narrative to the one that had emerged, that is what lead to division and confusion. This will hopefully correct some of that.

NWSF: Please share your views about Freedom of the press in regards to the book.

Clark: Well, I have to tell you that despite what everyone say about America being so in favor of freedom of speech, you would not know it based on some if the things I hear. There have been three other books published about the Duke case. Not a single one of them met with protest. From the time I expressed interest in even doing this project, there have been attempts to block it and intimidate me. I can only assume those people are proud Americans just like me and don't believe in the denial of any of our constitutionally guaranteed rights. Had we not had a free press in this country, I don't think we would be out of slavery yet. Those people, black and white, who could get the message out about how horrible slavery was, help turn public opinion.

I think that why China and Russia are having such a difficult time hanging on to their fragile democracies. They like the capitalism part and all the stuff. They just haven't figured out the other part about the people being free to express themselves. I think because of Russia's unwillingness to support a free press, they will regress for a while. We should learn a lesson from that. I could never in a million years imagine leading an effort to block free speech rights. By blocking speech, you also block enlightenment. Sometimes, you have to hear and read words that you don't agree with. It causes you to think and make improvements. It is especially called for in this case.The exception to what I just said is that if you are evil, have bad intentions, stupid or just plain intellectually dishonest; speaking freely can insight people to harm others. I am none of those things.

I have worked for two decades now trying to challenge people to think for the betterment of us all. There is no reason we can't all co-exist in this country and on the this planet. We see what denying civil rights does to people. Whether it is in Zimbabwe, Russia, China, Chile or the United States, denying basic human rights makes you a hypocrite without moral authority. Countries like that eventually fade away. I'd like for America to stay around a little longer.

NWSF: Any closing words ?

One last thing... Take the time to reach out to someone that is suffering. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his last speech told the parable of the Good Samaritan. He was trying to explain why he came to Memphis to help the garbage workers. He called what he was doing "dangerous unselfishness". It is when you put yourself in harms way to protect someone who is defenseless and maybe you don't even know them. That is what we are really called to do by the higher power. Help those who are truly in need and defenseless. That is what I saw in the story and why I sought out Crystal. She was the one person who had been striped of her humanity and really needed a helping hand. We all need to practice more of that type of kindness.

Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting to Know the Know Bookstore

Getting to Know the Know Bookstore:
Store to host Crystal Gail Mangum

Paul Scott

The Know Bookstore has been a vital part of Durham's African American community for over 20 years and has been a favorite stop off point for out of town connoisseurs of Afrocentric books. However, because reading and black folks are seen as oxymoronic by the mainstream and since there are no reports of Saturday night stabbings at the establishment , the Know Bookstore has gone virtually unnoticed by white America.

That is until it was recently announced that Crystal Gail Mangum, aka "The Duke Accuser" will unveil her book "the Last Dance for Grace" at the store on Thursday, October 23rd at a 10AM press conference.

In an exclusive interview with owner, Bruce Bridges, affectionately known in Durham's black community as "Brotha Bruce," No Warning Shots wanted to know why with all the scandal surrounding Crystal Mangum, would he hold her book debut, there?

"The Know Bookstore is a place where the Durham community can come to express their points of view where the major chains may shut them out," says Bridges.

That's true. As someone who has frequented "The Know" on a regular basis since 1991, I have been exposed to many different perspectives from visiting lecturers that I would not have gotten at one of those fancy bookstores in the mall. Also, although I attended a historically black college, North Carolina Central University, the bulk of my cultural awareness did not come from sitting in a classroom but by grabbing my usual ring side seat at the Know Bookstore at the popular Thursday night lecture series during the 1990's

Over the years the Know has been visited by such nationally renowned folks such as Andrew Young, civil rights leader and former Atlanta mayor, Susan Taylor, founder of Essence Magazine and Dr. Yosef ben Jochannan, one of the pioneers of African-centered study. Also, Crystal Mangum will not be the first controversial voice raised at the Know Bookstore, as guests have included Black Power activists such as the late Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and Jamil Al -Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown.)

According to Bridges, the vision for the bookstore started with a lecture series at North Carolina Central University during the summer of 1981 which was later moved to St. Joseph's AME Church in 1982. Feeling that the cultural message needed to reach a larger audience such as the elderly and handicapped who could not venture out to the lectures, later in 1982, Bridges brought his "Cultural Awareness Seminar" to the airwaves via WDUR AM. The success of the radio broadcast created a market for Afrocentric reading and the Know Bookstore was established in 1982 on Dillard St in downtown Durham later in 1982. The store moved to its current location on Fayetteville St. in 1991.

What has endeared the store to the hearts of members of Durham's African American community has not only been its Afrocentric resources but the activism that has originated at the Know. As a young activist in the early 90's, I remember spreading information about my activities and posting fliers at the Know, something that Brotha Bruce will quickly point out that I would probably not have been able to do at a Barnes and Nobles. Matter of fact the first time that the world heard about my crusade against the malt liquor industry for targeting black youth came courtesy of the Cultural Awareness Seminar.

Also, other activists such as Minister Curtis E. Gatewood, former president of the Durham NAACP, who gained national attention for his "Boycott Against Santa's Cost" a campaign against wasteful holiday spending in the mid 90's , have done a lot of community organizing around the bookstore.

Although, there were many black bookstores around the country in the 90's, in 2008, the Know is the last of a dying breed, as many Afrocentric bookstores have been forced to close their doors over the last decade.

So what has enabled the Know to keep its head above water.

According to Bridges, it's because the Know prides itself in being more than just a bookstore.

Besides the community events that the store still sponsors, it also features The Know Restaurant where you can get a slammin' fish sandwich, side order of veggies, a big piece of potato pie and wash it down with a tall glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. I got to tell you though, if you want anything containing swine, you have to go somewhere else. Also the restaurant has Jazz Nights every Friday for those wanting to cool out after a hard week's work.

So what is the future of the Know and the few remaining African-centred bookstores and radio programs across the country ?

Empowering black people through education. Or to borrow from Brotha Bruce's book; to aid us in "recapturing the African mind.'

Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283

Monday, October 13, 2008

Internet Radio Interview 10/14

I'm scheduled to be a guest on "It Can't Just Be Me" Show Tuesday October 14th at 11:10PM EST to discuss Hip hop and Politics
To listen go to

Rappin' for the Republicans

Rappin' for the Republicans:
How Hip Hop Helps the Conservatives

Min. Paul Scott

***written back in 2008 but since Fox News aired the Straight Outta Compton" commercial during the GOP debate for their "Willie Horton moment 2015", it still applies...

There's a famous scene from the cult classic movie "Scarface" where inebriated gangster, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) disses a bunch of classy conservative folks by telling them that they need people like him so they can point their fingers and say "that's the bad guy."

Such is the strange relationship between the Right Wing and rap music.

While at first glance they may appear to be at polar opposites of the political spectrum, the ideologies of gangsta-ism and conservatism are actually dependent upon each other for survival. Just like in the world of Hollywood, every hero needs a villain and every villain needs a hero.

Since the inception of gangsta rap in the late 80's, the conservatives have used the music to embody everything that is socially and morally reprehensible in this country and the gangsta's have been quick to label anyone who disapproves of their violent and misogynistic lyrics as a wrinkled right wing ole fogey.

It must be noted that when the term "Hip Hop" is used here it is not meant to include the music of legendary political artists such as Public Enemy whose legacy is seen today in the lyrics of noncommercial groups such as Dead Prez but the majority of the commercial rap that has dominated the charts and radio playlists for well over a decade.

While much of the criticism from the Right has centered around naughty words and suggestive lyrics, the apolitical and anti intellectual nature of "gangsta rap" has, in many ways, fulfilled the wishes of those who seek to conserve power by the dumbing down of the powerless. This may be the reason why the commercial era of "political" Hip Hop lasted a mere four years but the reign of gangsta rap has been going strong for 20 years.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the late gangsta rap pioneer Eric "Eazy E" Wright had lunch with President George H Bush at a reception for the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle in 1991. That becomes even more strange in the context that the Right is not exactly known for breaking bread with the enemy as current VP candidate Sara Palin points out ad nauseum.

It must be noted that while the protest against rappers Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dog led by C. Delores Tucker and William Bennett only helped to elevate their status as cult heroes who were merely fighting, according to them, represent their community. Bennett went on a decade later to issue what could be a considered a call for gangsta eugenics when he said that if you abort every black baby in this country ,the crime rate would go down.

Also, during the mid 90's while aid to the poor was under attack, MTV showed a clip with the late rapper Russel "Ol Dirty Bastard" Jones arriving at a welfare office via stretch limo to pick up food stamps during an era when the Right Wing was holding up images of black women as "welfare queens."

Fast forward to 2008 and we see that Hip Hop has not changed much and neither has the Republican Party. Despite the many rappers moonlighting as voter registration organizers this political season, their day jobs are still keeping the masses of inner city youth politically misdirected and justifying the Right's political scare tactics.

So, today what to do about the so called "Hip Hop Generation" is seen as the new "white man's burden." In states across the country there are laws being imposed where the wearing of Hip Hop inspired clothing may be probable cause for the implementation of legislation reminiscent of Richard Nixon's tough on crime policies of the early 70's.

With the economy saggin' like rapper 'Lil Wayne's pants, the Conservatives need poverty poster children who they can say enjoy being broke. Who can argue for more social programs when the image of "tha hood" being broadcast across the planet is not an area filled with hungry children and dilapidated buildings but a fantasy land where black men with gold teeth ride around in expensive cars with spinning rims blasting loud music all day. Not exactly the best argument for affirmative action.

Now, I'm not suggesting that a rap mogul is in a studio somewhere composing rap lyrics with a Republican strategist but stranger things have happened in the wild world of politics.

However, at a time when the whole world seems to be yelling for change this election season, maybe Hip Hop artists won't turn a deaf ear.

Maybe, this year, to quote Tony Montana, we can finally say "goodnight to the bad guy."

Min. Paul Scott is founder of the Messianic Afrikan Nation  based in Durham NC. His blog is He can be reached at (919)972-8305

Follow on Twitter @truthminista

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jay Z Stumpin' for Prez: The Politics of Hip Hop

Jay Z Stumpin' For Prez?:The Politics of Hip Hop

Paul Scott

Just like a pimped out E F Hutton, when Shawn "Jay Z " Carter talks, people listen.

And I'm not just talking about the boyz in tha 'hood, I'm talking about the white collar boys in executive suites. With just one lyric, Jay-Z has the uncanny ability to change the direction of an entire entertainment industry. Shawn Carter is the urban personification of the Haratio Alger Story: street corner drug dealer becomes a successful entrepreneur by rappin' about being a street corner drug dealer. The stuff that urban legends are made of.

That is why I have mixed emotions about Jay Z stumpin' for presidential candidate, Barack Obama via free rap concerts.

Don't get me wrong. Anytime a Hip Hop artist raps about anything other than derrieres and drug deals, I'm automatically a fan. So, I ain't hatin' on "Jigga", as he is affectionately known by rap connoisseurs.

However, what bothers me most when rap stars become "political activists" are the contradictions and missed opportunities.

Lets face it. Politics is really one big orgy and if you flick on the lights and pull the sheets back on any political bed, a lot of strange bedfellows will go scrambling for the nearest exit. However, Hip Hop is somewhat different, as it is heavily marketed as the voice of urban youth and many black kids do look up to rappers as role models, for better or mostly worst.

This is not the first time that a rapper has endorsed a political candidate, rap pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 once kicked some funky rhymes in 1984 in support of Rev. Jesse Jackson's first presidential run. However, despite using the bleeped out "p" word (piss) on the rap classic, "The Message" their music was basically, family friendly. Also, few could argue about the political awareness of rappers of the late 80's and early 90's such as Public Enemy and Sister Souljah, as they were often under fire not only for their lyrics but their strong political stances. This is not so with today's multi-millionaire rap pundants..

Hence, Hip Hop's political hypocrisy.

Today's Hip Hop artists are business men and the only presidents that they are concerned about are the dead presidents that are on the face of dollar bills. To borrow from a sample from Jay Z's street classic "Dead Presidents , " I'm out for presidents that represent me..." Hip Hop is no longer the voice of inner city streets as it was a generation ago, it is now the voice of Wall Street and somehow tales of extravagant "ghetto fabulous living" go over real big with the marketing departments at multi national entertainment corporations. '

The lifestyles that Carter and some of the 21st century, commercially successful Hip Hop artists rap about are the lives that the economically privileged in the Hamptons live but the struggling youth in economically depressed neighborhoods give their lives trying to achieve. So I have to wonder who is out their promoting Obama-ism, the Jay Z who was just another black kid with big dreams from the hood 20 years ago or the multi millionaire business man, former CEO of Def Jam Records and part owner of the NJ Nets, Shawn Carter? We can't expect the members of the Hip Hop Millionaire Boys Club to have the same political and economic interests of the struggling masses still trapped in "the ghetto." It must be noted that many of the undergound, noncommercial/politically conscious Hip Hop artists are rollin' with the Green Party, this year, courtesy of the organizing efforts of Hip Hop activist and VP candidate, Rosa Clemente.

Also, the Jay Z's and Sean "Puff Daddy/Diddy" Combs of the world, two of the signers of the recent Obama endorsement letter, "Open Letter to Young America" have the ability to effect the lives of more black youth in one week than the Obama administration can do in four years. Suppose, Jay Z with his many CD releases over the last decade would have released one strictly "political" album dealing with social problems and solutions? What impact would that have had on the millions of Jay Z followers around the country. Suppose during the last decade he had used his standing room only concert appearances to politicize his millions of fans instead of giving them tales of crack deals and misogyny? I think it is safe to say that the political consciousness of black youth would have been very different than it is, today.

Hip Hop politicians remind me of the two little pigs who built their cribs out of cheap straw and sticks instead of spending the necessary time and effort to build a sturdy house made of brick. If they spent more time working on building a solid social and economic infrastructure instead of blingin' and poppin' bottles of champagne at the club, then they wouldn't have to worry about the big bad Republican wolf blowing their houses down every four years!

The 'hood doesn't need voter registration, tha hood needs political education. But until we, as a community, demand more political and social responsibility from artists that we support with our dollars, in and out of political season, to quote from the "Jigga Man," himself..

"Can't knock the hustle."

Paul Scott, "the Hip Hop TRUTH Minista," is a writer and activist in Durham NC. His blog is To reach Scott contact (919) 451-8283 or