Thursday, March 01, 2007
From The New York Daily News…
He tries to N-d it all in city
Pol has the vision, let everyone follow
By Stanley Crouch
Councilman Leroy Comrie, the sponsor of the resolution unanimously passed yesterday that calls upon New Yorkers to voluntarily stop using the N-word, seemed naive to those who thought there was no hope of inspiring a dialogue that would educate young people about the history of the word.
It has been used to dehumanize an entire ethnic group and make it that much easier to commit various forms of injustice against it. Those injustices include everything from labor exploitation to ritual murder, lynchings that symbolized the inferior position of the black person and the superior position of the white.
Part of the problem that Comrie hopes to address comes not just from knuckleheads and obnoxious or uninformed kids following the contemporary crude behavior of the streets. There has been a very great change in our culture at large and that change, as usual, is felt most strongly at the bottom. In the middle ‘60s, there was no definition of black authenticity that came from the bottom, an authenticity defined by how far it seemed to be from those who inhabited the white suburbs. In those days, a mush-mouthed, strutting fool was neither considered a role model nor was thought to be attractive to women.
There was no way for a man like 50 Cent, the symbol of the arena in which the N-word has entered prime time, to become stupendously popular.
By the end of the ‘60s, a commercial vision of black authenticity that called upon revolutionary black nationalism and insipid vulgarity was on its way to pushing aside everything that seemed to have its roots in the middle class. The pimp and the thug became heroes in blaxploitation films, where black people who could speak the English language were sneered at by gargoyle clowns in tasteless outfits.
The stage was set for the emergence of rap. It was rough, crude, narcissistic and sometimes given to political pretensions. It was mostly talk and little music but it was largely boasting and had some version of adolescent charm and moxie.
We all know how rap devolved into gangster rap and we have read over and over about all of the beefs. For many years, people bit their tongues about all of the ugly things that rose from the idiom, celebrating thug behavior, violence, hatred of women and a crude materialism that ravenously bows down before whatever led to wealth.
None of this would be possible without the support of the big corporations that are responsible for the dissemination of this dreck, but the corporations are not alone. They work in a partnership with these new minstrels who well know that without this business and the descent of public taste, they would not become wealthy men.
The most inspiring thing that has begun to emerge in the last few years is a body of thought that comes from the other end of the field. These people will not shut up because they fear being called middle class or being accused of hating themselves of wanting to be white. They are not impressed by arrest records of the rappers and are too sophisticated to believe that civilized behavior is somehow the exclusive province of white people.
Essence magazine led the charge under the leadership of Diane Weathers; the women of Spellman College rose up in rebellion; and young black college men started a group called bent on banning the N-word. Byron Hurt’s film “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” exploded recently on PBS. I am now reading “Ghetto Nation,” a new weapon against this madness by Cora Daniels, a writer, wife and mother who was born and lives in Brooklyn. All of these people share one idea: They will neither sit still for denigration parading as vital art.
It may just be starting, but it will not stop. Too many people are tired of it, and we will see them begin to show up in larger and larger numbers. Leroy Comrie and the City Council have joined a meaningful struggle and will be remembered for it.