"I remember once I was covering Marion Barry here in D.C. and I remember standing at a bus stop one day [back when I had to ride the bus]. And this guy comes up to me and he says, "You know that White newspaper you work for, The Washington Post, you know that paper goes all over the country, all over the world and it's creating a real bad image of Black people, you know, you should know what you're doing, you know, working for the Man and putting down Black people."That certainly is a great burden to bear. It's a good thing he's over that. Now he appears on Bill O'Reilly's show, effectively, as a member of the black upper class, assuring Bill's 70+ year old white, male audience that there are some Negros out there who are civilized and well mannered and not corrupting our youth. In the segment he has the keen insight to say that it's really okay for white kids to listen to Gangsta rap because that has no effect on them except for providing them an outlet for rebellion (oh, and creating a certain impression of race relations--but who could that hurt?) It's the Black youths that have a problem here because:
too many of the black kids take it as, "Oh, that's what it means to be authentically black. That's how you make money. That's how you become rich and famous and get on TV and get music videos." And you either get the boys or the girls. The girls think they have to, you know, be half-naked and spinning around like they're on meth in order to get any attention. It really corrupts people, and I think it adds, Bill, to some serious sociological problems, like the high out-of-wedlock birth rate because of this hypersexual imagery that then the kids adapt to some kind of reality. I mean, it's inauthentic.It's like it came from the script of a movie drafted by Reaganite propagandists about race. I'm not going to really engage with the argument about the effect a certain set of role models has on young people: obviously it has some effect but since the "black kids" we're talking about here are cardboard cut outs fashioned by the minds of these two stooges I'll leave that to one side. What I will point out is that, as these two guys with their major public presence on the US airwaves forget to mention, is that this image of "gangstas" etc. is hardly new and their widespread promotion isn't just some random, democratic result of us having sorted through all the possible Black entertainers and coming up with these guys. Up at the top there are some White homies that are making plenty of bank off of this--and have been for some time--and their marketing and promotion tactics are keen to the popular impressions they've helped to create.
But all of this is sort of beside the point. Because what Bill begins his segment saying is that he's so unfamiliar with the way that "Black America" (as if such a thing exists) works that a stroll through Harlem is his only source of authority for talking about "Black America." Juan Williams should have called him on that right off. If you're such a stranger to these areas, how do you know so much about the children in them? The answer is that he simply doesn't. And I'd imagine Juan Williams doesn't know much more. The effect they are talking about (kids imitating gangsta rappers) is simply presumed from the content of the media. The ridiculous idea that they can blame the increase in out-of-wedlock births on "Gangsta Rap" would be charmingly back-woods if these two fools weren't having their rap session on a nationally syndicated radio show.
I mean, everyone knows Reggaeton is much more popular than Gangsta rap in most US cities!
In thinking a little longer about this, I really do wonder what the larger context for Bill and Juan's little diatribe is and my suspicion is that it was addressing the events in Jena, which, if it was the case, really disgusts me. This lead into the whole discussion makes me suspect that it had something to do with what is going on there, in which case Williams should really be ashamed of himself for playing along:
Now, how do we get to this point? Black people in this country understand that they've had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. I don't think there's a black American who hasn't had a personal insult that they've had to deal with because of the color of their skin. I don't think there's one in the country. So you've got to accept that as being the truth. People deal with that stuff in a variety of ways. Some get bitter. Some say, [unintelligible] "You call me that, I'm gonna be more successful." OK, it depends on the personality.Right. I guess those kids in Jena just didn't take up the challenge those nooses posed with the right frame of mind.
[okay, I admit, I'm jumping to a conclusion here. But since I am not going to pay to listen to the 9/19 version of his radio show, I'm going to assume that, since the story aired the day before the big rally in Jena it is hard to imagine any story about race (especially one that focuses on the age old white problem of having to put up with uppity, yet uncivilized, Negros) not beginning from that point. And if it wasn't starting from that point, then it is even more disconnected from reality than I imagined.-]