Peace to everyone who felt the need to respond to my recent post about racism. Apologies to everyone who read it looking for some kind of significant insight and instead were met with a half-hearted vent, filled with my dry humor, about a common prejudice that I come across in the hip-hop community. I have a feeling that the title of the post threw some people off and so I’m writing this to clarify a few things. Someone suggested I repost my back and forth from the comment section with my homie Terry Reynolds, so here it is to start things off:

T. Reynolds on April 23rd, 2008 at 6:43 pm

G you know that comment does not apply to you.

I mean I kind of understand what he’s saying here – it comes from a point of frustration. Important for white dudes not to get so defensive / reactionary here. Even my boy Omowale spoke about this phenomenon. Why is hip-hop criticism and opinions and value put into the hands of predominantly white writers that form public consensus / opinions when most of it is created by an entirely different demographic? I’m not black either but when my dude says stuff like this I feel him:

“If Hip-Hop is dying or resembling staleness it’s not any particular artist or group of artists; it’s because these cats had the culture following the rich white male standard. Yeah! Why else is everyone still trying to revive the dead Village w/out Tramps, 40 Flavas, Wetlands, Spiral Lounge (my former spot)? Why else is the “best emcees” or “top rated emcees” judged in mid-town? For some strange reason, Hip-Hop isn’t dwelling in the backyard or front yard (depending on where your positioned) of Kool Herc’s 1520 Sedgwick Avenue landmark home”

Dude is far from racist he’s just telling it like it is. The power for DIRECTING and having a critical voice about the music is very muted, save for a few like NYOIL who use the media to critique black music as well as make their own music.

G on April 23rd, 2008 at 7:25 pm

yeah, true. i know it wasn’t really directed at me. but unfortunately his idea of exclusivity does encompass me. just by attempting to define boundaries he limits our potential. and besides that, it just freakin irks me. stand up for yourself dude, write an opposing view. contribute critical analysis, don’t whine by the sidelines. empowerment can’t be achieved by feeling frustrated, becoming overwhelmed and resorting to anger and fantasies of violence which inevitably lead to real violence. channel the energy and focus your strength. i extend an invitation to moe negro, whoever he might be, to come write something insightful right here to get these feelings of impotence off his chest. i’ll share my limited platform to prevent another intelligent being, yeah i recognize his intelligent remarks clouded with his frustration, from succumbing to that barrage of overwhelming stimuli comprised of false images and distracting media that is shot out of the marketing machines that exist within our society.

The idea I was trying to convey that got lost in the shuffle is how much I despise racism. If you choose to continue to identify yourself and others primarily according to race, instead of one’s socio-economic background, then you choose to limit your impact. And if this kind of racism gains ground in hip-hop then it will contribute to our dis-empowerment. And let’s not get things twisted. Moe Negro’s comments on their own are of no major consequence. But it’s not just him. Over a year ago I had a discussion about the same issue, here are some highlights:

Afronerd Fan on December 14th, 2006 at 9:07 am

Blah, Blah. So what’s Your point? And YOU also believe early HipHop was the brainchild of Blacks, Latinos, ANF other folks? Obviously another individual who was not there but seems to be comfortable with distorting history. This “we are the world”, “can’t we all get along” version of how it all went down is far from reality and complete b.s. maybe you should take another look at the Afronerd blog, it seems to be a bit much for you, but you still might learn something.

G on December 14th, 2006 at 2:08 pm

My point is that the afron*rd blog is more interesting as an outlet for offensive biased logic than as an outlet for entertaining alternative black culture. And I do not believe hiphop was the brainchild of any individual or group of individuals. I can’t imagine it was formulated to be what it was or that it was given a name prior to it’s existence, like some marketing campaign. It more likely came into being through the natural expression of a group of individuals with exposure to various backgrounds and cultures. Sure, most mcs back then were black and most breakers were latino/hispanic. So what? The people getting busy in the parties were from everywhere, especially when the parties got bigger and started taking place all over the city. And more so when the music/language/dance started to get passed down and spread throughout the country. By the time i was growing up in queens, hiphop was more defined and it was definitely not exclusive to blacks or any race. Again, I’m not debating the background of the first mcs or the first graff writers or the first breakers. I’m debating the misconception that black music or latino music is just for blacks or latinos. I’m debating that the perpetuation of racial boundaries is healthy. I’m debating that only blacks and latinos made signficant contributions to “early” hiphop (define early). And I’m also debating the definition of HipHop as static vs dynamic. I’m curious to know what HipHop is comprised of for you? Do you limit it to the artists? To a certain time period? Do you exclude the listeners or observers? And also, I’m not saying everyone got along back then or now, I’m saying most people, no matter the color, could and can appreciate it. Lastly, the afron*rd blog is a bit too much for me and I did learn something from visiting but I probably won’t be going back.

Obviously (at least I thought it was obvious) I was not addressing white people’s role in early hip-hop or present day hip-hop. I wasn’t even really trying to defend Soderberg, apparently a popular writer that I never read. I was trying to call out weakness and racism as I see it. I’m a little disappointed with OhWord’s decision to obfuscate and trivialize the issue at hand (not to mention that R.H.S. decided to approach me with his comments directly and group me with some people he has no respect for), but whatever, that’s besides the point. I just want to make sure culture participants out there do not misunderstand our position and do not pass over the seriousness of race issues in hip-hop. Although hip-hop began with a few particular races in a small part of the world, today it is representative of any group of individuals that can relate to the same set of circumstances. Just because you are black does not give you a pass into hip-hop. But being non-black does not automatically exclude you either.

Case in point, when I entered college and started meeting people from different parts of the country I started to notice something. I would get a lot of funny looks when I used the term nigga. Especially around black people that were raised in far off cities like San Francisco or Las Vegas. But I was from Queens Village. And I tended to chill in Hollis and Jamaica, Queens. Nigga was a part of our everyday language. Didn’t matter if you were black, white or latino, if you were down then you were my niggas and vice versa. People from around the way know what I’m talking about. Actually Fat Joe recently brought it up, now who’s gonna tell him he can’t say nigga? But the point is that it wasn’t solely about race. It was about your experience as a person. And that is the path to empowerment, inclusivity, not exclusivity.

And the other thing that really bothered me about Moe Negro’s comments was that “woe is me” bullshit aesthetic. If something really bothers you then you need to address it. And address the issue not the person. Terry pointed out that feeling of frustration that so many of us can relate to. GRANDGOOD itself is a manifestation of my constant sense of frustration with the undermining and misrepresentation of the music and culture that I hold so dear. And NYOIL is the perfect example of what it means to stand up for yourself and contribute a positive impact to your reality. He discusses the idea of accountability all the time. If you disagree with someone then express yourself patna. Give us your reasons. If you can’t stand what’s on the radio then do something about it. Call in. Curse out the DJs. If you’re just going to sit and bitch, then you are a weak (edited so as not to be accused of being pro-misogynistic or anti-feminist, much love to the earths).

Ultimately I just want heads to know where I’m coming from. I am not anti-pro-blackness or pro-whiteness. I am an anti-racist.

update: R.H.S. responded again. I tried leaving a comment but couldn’t figure out which words were blacklisted so putting it in our comments instead. Gotta go get ready for EPMD show!