Morning, Joe. Nice Day To Be a Bigot. Why Pundits Shouldn’t Discuss Rap.
So, did you hear the news?
Joe Scarborough murdered his mistress, Mika Brzezinski is a Nazi name, and Bill Kristol and Roger Ailes are ex-lovers!
Oh wait. Forgive me... These things aren’t true, and suggesting they are is extremely insensitive and a distortion of facts.
But who cares, right? I mean, since these three are granted the right to be insensitive, ignorant and to distorts facts when they address their MSNBC audience, why can’t I do the same?
It was this trio of bigots who, when “reporting” on the horribly racist chants by some of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon students, decided that they would lob blame at participants in the music of a culture that they have little to no understanding of.
“If you look at every single song,” Morning Joe co-host Brzezinski (who is probably not a Nazi) said, in response to rap artist Waka Flocka Flame’s decision to protest the incident by canceling a performance at the university. “It’s a bunch of garbage,” she continued. “It’s full of n-words, it’s full of f-words. It’s wrong. And he shouldn’t be disgusted with them, he should be disgusted with himself.”
Probably-not-gay-but-you-never-know Bill Kristol, chiming in, actually had me for a minute with, “Popular culture becomes a cesspool, a lot corporations profit off of it,” before he leaped into the most outlandish victim-blaming pivot one could imagine, with, “People are surprised that some drunk 19-year-old kids repeat what they’ve been hearing.”
Joe Scarborough joined the lunacy with his own killer thought, adding, “They heard a lot of this from guys like this who are now acting shocked.”
Right. Because “hanging [niggers] from a tree” as an exercise in racial superiority is a common theme in rap music.
Of course, in a way, the Morning Joe hosts are right! These white boys were absolutely repeating something they had heard.
From OTHER white boys.
From previous and current fraternity members. And in all likelihood, family members and community.
This is the only trail of blame that should be followed.
Without a doubt, the abhorrent nature of these chants must be wholly and universally condemned. Logically, the only people who could defend them, or point blame in other directions, must be bigots. Their morality should be questioned, and their employers should be concerned that by engaging in this practice, they have created content that verges on hate speech.
Dragging hip hop and rap into the mix makes it even worse.
Because here is what they, many media personalities like them, and their outlets do not fully understand.
As I vehemently argued in my ongoing FCC petition against radio station company Emmis Communications and their flagship rap station, Hot 97, hip hop is a culture.
Rap music is a part of this culture, but hip hop itself is in fact, a culture. As defined by the dictionary. The encyclopedia. Harvard University. Yale University. Cornell University. And by the actual members of, and participants in, said culture.
Now, there are certainly problems within said culture, and definitely aspects of the artforms associated with that culture that are less than stellar examples of the immense creativity, solidarity, pride and respect that much of that culture possesses.
While nothing about these racist chants could possibly be tied to this culture and it’s artwork, the conversations about this culture and its artwork, are absolutely worth having.
However, connecting these unconnected dots, on national television, while holding the position of “journalist,” without anything more than a cursory knowledge of this culture and its artwork, without a suitable opposing viewpoint to defend this culture and its artwork (though thank you Willie Geist, for at least trying), was a bigoted low blow.
When you speak out against members of a community, participants in a recognized culture, and do so flippantly, insinuating a dastardly connection to a despicable act, you are shouting fire in a crowded society.
It would be as if, in response to a story about an ax murderer, these bigots declared Native Americans to blame. After all, they wield axes when they sing and dance, do they not?
Let’s be real. These kinds of cultural xenophobes equate rap with black people, so what they were really doing here was blaming black people for white people being racist against black people.
My brain hurts.
Here’s the thing. Rappers didn’t say those chants.
Hip hop culture is not to blame for those chants.
These white college students are.
Let that sink in. These were college students that were gleefully singsonging these words. Students who will be graduating, getting jobs, and, if an University of Oklahoma education means anything, at some point quite possibly be in charge of things like hiring and firing.
It’s interesting. Some wonder why African-Americans can’t just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and make something of themselves.
Here’s a hint.
Because generations of executives, hiring decision makers and business managers, up to and including the next wave to emerge with degrees, have been singing about lynching them.
And because culturally insensitive bigots get paid a lot of money to be on national television and tell you to blame black people instead.
Originally published at www.birthplacemag.com on March 12, 2015.