From: All About Race

When I read your piece on the All About Racism blog, I admired your quest to understand racism, but you seem to know little about the complexity of the African American history and culture. In the 1970’s the NAACP tried to lead a boycott against Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. It was not effective; the organization was accused of being too “sensitive.” Do you listen to a lot of rap music? The selections that you quoted are rather old. Hip-hop has largely moved on from the “gangster era.” The song you are referred to is Ice-T’s Cop Killer. It was released in the early 1990’s and was only on the first printing of the album. Charlton Heston and his fellow board members at Warner Brothers had the song removed from all of the subsequent pressings. Few artists’ talk is about hating “whitey” these days, that sentiment doesn’t get you record deals. You also cannot strike fear into the heart of a significant portion of your audience. Seventy percent of the consumers of hip-hop are non-black. If you want to here black anger within context. listen to Public Enemy or KRS-1 from the late 80’s. If you want to the group from today that lyrically expresses the anger and disappointments that inform our experience try Dead Prez.

You used the word “racism” on numerous occasions in your blog entry. That word is a major stumbling block to any concrete explorations of race privilege. It can mean anything from the use of a racial slur to lynching. We must find more precise phases to discuss this topic on a national level.

Black anger about our past and current situation is legitimate. While a few rappers may use anti-white slurs, which are abhorrent, but these expressions do not lead to violence. Throughout American history anti-black rhetoric by whites has lead to torture, rape and death of millions of African Americans. An earlier incarnation of the Nation of Islam and the Black panthers were separatist but they did not go on a century long, nationally approved, reign of terror like the KKK. This country minimizes and denies the toll that home grown terrorism has taken on the black community. This erasure of American history creates generational anger that will not be abated until the truth of America is in every social studies & history textbook.

Modern anger stems from the fact that we still do not enjoy all the benefits of being American citizens. Our communities are patrolled like we were in a police state. The white flight out of urban areas of this country left the inner city bereft of millions of jobs. The public school system was called to integrate in 1958. This still, for the most part has not happened. The violent anti-black race riots of 1970’s showed America how vehemently white working class people did not want to blacks to have the tools to ascend to the middle class. Predominantly black public schools are not funded adequately and many teachers are simply collecting a paycheck. Of course, there are kids who will not benefit from a better education, but whites have that dilemma also. After the passage of the Civil Rights bills (1964-68), African Americans finally experienced some equality in the industrial sector. We are now reaping the whirlwind of the Regan promoted flight of industrialized jobs from the U.S. This affected the whole nation, but people of color had only had the opportunity to reach to middle class like millions of European Americans for a Less than two decades.

The War on Drugs targeted blacks and Hispanics and imprisoned non-violent drug addicts for draconian periods of time. Whites are more likely to receive shorter sentences and opportunities for rehabilitation when arrested for powdered cocaine. This is a clear violation of the equal protection under the law clause of the Constitution. We do not have higher penalties for a drunk driver who is inebriated on hard liquor as opposed to beer, do we?

I wish more people would undergo the process that you are going through now. After the anger, fear, guilt and mourning, this country will become stronger. I hope this helps you get a better idea how these lyrics come about and some of the complex underpinnings of black anger.

Words from Katherine

May 16th, 2009 at 7:18 am


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