HOT 97 sings, Asians scream and the polticians lean back...
Well, well... what do we have here:
HOT 97 in NYC (I've been gone 5 years and i still miss manhattan) drops a joint called "tsunami song": The kids who've been oprhaned by the floods will be sold into sex slavery... Asians need to shut up... People laughing at the death and destruction...It's a foul and racist song all the way around. And the culprits? Mainly Black radio talent.
Star and Buck, Miss Jones and crew decided to play the same card that Howard Stern, Debbie Shlussel, Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus and countless of white on-air talent have played for generations: It's the "ethnic people of color is funny and their suffering is even funnier" card. All these guys grew up on Stern's nigger jokes and slurs. They've heard all of Limbuagh's thinly veiled and not-so-thinly veiled racial slurs. They've seen the Jenny Jones and Ricky Lakes parade out sterotypical blacks at a profit for generations. They've seen the success of Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and (neocon-in-training) Dennis Miller. And now it's 2005 and they've decided that "well hell, we can do what they do and get ratings, too. After all, we're all equals now." And this time, Asians, a smaller demographic, get to feel the heat.
There's something amussing about black talent essentially thinking that a) it's okay to slur other races in the name of ratings and "cuz i can, and screw you if you can't take a joke," reasoning. and b) because we're "equal" to "mainstreamers" therfore we should have the right to do everything "they do/did".
And we also have the Republicans and Democrats teeing off on HOT 97 in the name of their various constituencies. All matter of congressfolk from coast to coast have weighed in on this one as a lay-up. "Racism is wrong!" They're screaming. Racism. Is. Wrong... Way to go out on a limb, folks. (Tax dollars at work.)
In some way, this HOT 97 also reminds me of the confirmation hearings on Judge Gonzales and Dr. Condoleeza Rice. Like the outrage against the black racist stuff on HOT 97 it's like Congress and many americans are saying, "Lookit, White right-wing neocon simpathizers and activist judges are one thing. But we'll be damned if we have black folks and brown folks pulling the same card!" And as I've said before, I don't care for Rice (or Powell before her) or Gonzales' politics and views, but what separates them from any judge or high-ranking cabinet post-holder in the past? The others were all telling the truth? The other's were all looking out for the people? What, Tip O'Neil never told a lie? When Bush, Sr. ran the CIA, he gave full-dsclosure to the American people? C'mon, y'all. The differences are pretty obvious.
One of the many ironies in all this mess is hearing folks like Jin, an asian-american emcee (and a good one ) firing back using rap lyrics criticizing HOT 97. And he's not alone. Thanks to hiphop, soul music, BET, etc. Many Asian-Americans, along with Hispanics, Europeans, etc. "embrace" black culture--at least as far as they can claim ownership and definition of it. Consequently, most of th Aisians complaining about this know HOT 97 because they're fans of 97's "urban" format, which is just a bastardized term for "black music that's acceptable everyone else."
There's always been something amusing in America about having non-blacks embracing and in most cases flat-out stealing black culture, then turning around and using it as a platform to criticze black folks. Even when the criticism is just--and in this case it is--it's always struck me as more than a little bit hypocritical on more than a couple of levels. It's like saying, "I'm gonna take from your community, with or without your permission, because I can, and i'm going to use what i've taken to put you in your place whener i see fit." You see this alot with the co-option of MLK Jr.'s legacy. (Everyone from midgets to smokers to fat people to white gays pulls the " this is not what MLK would've done" card to justify getting whatever it is they want"--usually at the expense of black folks, by the way.)
This is also the part of multiculturalism in America that I've always struggled with. So much of what we call "multiculturalism" really comes from everyone doing their versions of black culture (artforms, language, dress, etc.), yet there's no real discussion about the racial politics or reprecussions of this. There's an arrogance, almost a type of racism involved when you decide that simply because you like what comes out of someone's community that you're entitled to own it or create your version of it. Particularly when those people could never pull the same stunt on your respective culture/artforms, etc. (Consider how accomidating Koreans or Chinese or French or Italians or Jews would be of Black Americans suddenly decided to claim ownership and authority of their various cultures (music, dress, lanugage, etc.). The result is a psuedo koombya vibe where everyone pretend to have something in common; that is, until one of the "friends" gets out of line and spits something like the Tsunami Song.
Anyway, this HOT 97/Senate Confirmation Hearings stuff is just the beginning of the New America, an American where way too many black folks, in the name of "having overcome" will be forced to learn 4 very ugly lessons the hard way:
1) Being equal to the mainstream society that's held you down for so long doesn't mean you adopt the worst of their traits, too. 2) We've probably sacrificed being ourselves and embrancing our own communities in the name of being "equal" and "accepted" by everyone else. 3) No matter how far we go, someone'll remind us that "Oh hell nawh! Nuh-uh, nigga--you can say/do some things, but you don't get to say/do (that)!" And 4) If love of money and power ain't the root of all evil, they're at least evil's biggest cash crops.
Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE:How to save your job and your life from Corporate America. (www.knockthehustle.com) It's hiphop's first guide to success in business, culture and life. You can reach him at: email@example.com