As you may have heard, famed rapper Jay-Z is part-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team which, thanks to the owners' group decision to move the team to Brooklyn, will soon be the Brooklyn Nets.
|NYC Mayor Bloomberg (left) and Rapper/Part-Owner of the Brooklyn Nets Jay-Z (right)|
Apparently Phil Mushnick, a sports writer for the NY Post, did not appreciate Jay-Z's selection and had this to say:
“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots— what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new ‘urban’ home— why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”
“Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don’t call black men the N-word; I don’t regard young women as bitches and whores; I don’t glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N—ers?”
Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I’M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about. (Same column I provide support for Amar’e Stoudemire at a time when everyone in town is ripping him to shreds. That was my LEAD, too, but what does that matter?)
I want to zero in on a few things here. First, notice the unapologetic tone coupled with the shifting of guilt to anybody who is "ignorant" enough to be offended. Classic NY Post maneuvers here. They did the same thing when an apology was demanded over the Obama/Monkey cartoon. There, the artist said:
This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.In other words, if you're offended by the racial overtones inherent in comparing a Black man to a monkey then it's your own fault for finding racism in that, even though our nation's history is replete with such insults.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
The next thing that stood out to me was the last line where Mushnick tries to tout his non-racist credentials because he showed support for Amar'e Stoudemire. Again, classic. This is what is known in most circles as the "I'm not a racist - I have black friends" routine. It falsely suggests that racism is predicated upon one's personal associations or, in Mushnick's case, his ability to find it within himself to say something positive about one Black person. That's great that Mushnick chose to say something nice about a Black person, but if saying something nice about a Black person (or having Black friends) is your personal test as to whether you are a racist or not, then you've got a long way to go. That type of thinking misses the point.
Being a racist or having the propensity to harbor racial prejudice doesn't turn on whether you happen to know a Black person any more than it turns on whether you can bring yourself to say something positive about one. Instead, it turns on your personal beliefs. Your personal beliefs are, in turn, manifested through the words and the actions that you choose.
In this case, Mushnick chose to somehow make the (quite large) logical leap that Jay-Z's selection of the Black and White team colors is somehow related to the negative stereotypes of Black people and hip hop music that Mushnick has seen in the media. And then when called on it, he attempts to turn the tables and accuse Jay-Z of perpetuating those stereotypes -- as if this explains Mushnick's original choice to associate the colors Black and White with racial stereotypes.
Even if what Mushnick is saying in his rebuttal is true, it still provides no explanation for why he chose to equate the colors Black and White with racial stereotypes. Many sports teams use those colors (e.g. Chicago White Sox) and their selection of those colors certainly did not have anything to do with whatever may or may not have been going on in the Black community.
Finally, Mushnick's entire rebuttal can be summarized like this: Well Jay-Z says the word "Nigger" so I should be able to say it too without any of you people acting offended. Well, let's think about that for a second. Does Jay-Z use the N-Word in his songs, sure. No question there. But that doesn't make him right for saying it, and it certainly doesn't make Mushnick right for choosing to repeat it or, worse yet, suggesting that it has anything to do with Jay-Z's selection of the Brooklyn Nets team colors.
So Mushnick, don't try to "Wax-on Wax-off" your way out of this one by sidestepping your choice to share your own racial prejudices on an issue that had nothing to do with racial stereotypes until YOU, Mushnick, brought them up. Some of us may have been born at night, but not last night.
1. Were Mushnick's comments out of line?
2. Does Mushnick raise a good point in his rebuttal?
3. What do the Bklyn Nets colors have to do with anything that Mushnick said?
4. Are we all victims of another Rupert Murdoch diversion from the real issues here?
5. Is it right for White People to use the N-Word if Black People use it?