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Iz Blak Peeple Stoopid?: Rap and the Racial Inferiority Myth


 “I dumb down for my audience/ double my dollars…” – “Moment of Clarity”, Jay-Z

Recently, students at Garvey University sponsored a debate between noted historian Dr. T. Asante Shakur and Professor Darwin J. Watson, author of the best selling book, Blacks Are Dumb…Get Over It! While Dr. Shakur feverishly went through an hour long, high powered PowerPoint presentation, highlighting indisputable evidence of Black contributions to civilization over the last 5,000 years, Watson just listened quietly with a confident grin on his face. When it was his turn to speak, he just walked over to the podium, told the sound man to pump up the local Hip-Hop station, and yelled “Booyah!!!” before leaving the stage, confident that he had proven his point…

Since this country was founded, the myth of Black intellectual inferiority has been a controversial topic. However, in 2012, it is imperative that we ask the question, “does the commercial Hip-Hop that is constantly pumped on the radio refute the myth or help to perpetuate it?”

According to John S. Haller, in his book, Outcasts from Evolution, the “scientific” basis for the Black intellectual inferiority myth was started around 1735 by Carl Von Linnaeus, who used skin color to describe , “racial character, personality traits, behavior, intelligence” etc. Linnaeus’s work set the stage for the theories of scientists such as Charles Darwin, William Shockley, Nobel Prize winner James Watson, and many others.

What is most disturbing about the myth is that it does not match up with historical facts.

As an example, George GM James wrote in his classic book, Stolen Legacy, that “the true authors of Greek philosophy were not the Greeks but the people of North Africa, commonly known as the Egyptians.” Also, although many people are familiar with Dr. WEB Du Bois’s book, Souls of Black Folk, relatively few are hip to his essay “Souls of White Folk,” where he wrote “Europe has never produced and never will in our day, bring forth a single human soul who cannot be matched and over matched in every human endeavor by Asia and Africa.”

Unfortunately, these facts have been rarely taught in history classes. Historically, the American educational system (as well as religious and political institutions) has been used to advance the idea that African Americans are less intelligent than Whites. Hip-Hop is not exempt.

Back in the day, groups like Poor Righteous Teachers and Boogie Down Productions used “edutainment” to inspire a whole generation to read books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and They Came Before Columbus by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima.” However, this was skillfully replaced by the mythological “street knowledge” popularized by NWA on their song “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988.

In his essay, “The Black Child,” Dr. Bobby Wright defined the “street mentality” as the myth that “Whites do not control the streets in the Black community nor the behavior of Blacks on those streets.” He argued that “Whites have more control, or at least as much control over brothers and sisters in the streets than over those in universities.”

Gradually, dumb became the new smart and reading became something for suckers.

Also, during this period Hollywood became “Holly’hood,” as the intellectual Spike Lee movies were replaced by gangsta flicks. Perhaps the biggest turning point is a result of what Enisoto Adika Ekunsirinde coined the “O Dog Theory.” He argues that before the 1993 ‘hood classic, Menace II Society, the audience would identify with the “positive brother” in a movie, but after “Menace” they began to celebrate the thugged-out, “O Dog” characters rather than the “smart brothers” like “Sharif.”

Things have not changed much in almost 20 years.

Unfortunately, there are still Black men trying to live up to the stereotype of being “real n*ggas” by perpetuating ignorance through Hip-Hop. No matter how you feel about the use of the N-word, it’s origin is rooted in racial inferiority. Strangely, the concept of taking “ownership of the word” and changing the perception did not originate in Hip-Hop. According to Dr. Randall Kennedy in his book, nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, it was a White comedian, Lenny Bruce, who in 1963, popularized the erroneous concept that overusing the word would take the sting out of it.

As we get ready for another Black History Month, I suggest that instead of discussing the “plantation work songs” and “Negro spirituals” like we usually do, we focus on an issue that this generation is facing today.

How do we take our music and our minds back?

While it may be true that the proverbial “they” control the air waves, that doesn’t mean that “they” should control our brain waves. So much so that we don’t even question the “menticide” that is being waged against the youth. When the radio DJ says that he is just “playing what the people want to hear,” we just accept it as fact and keep it movin’. We have bought into the stereotype that the only music we want to hear is about Maybachs, murder and misogyny.

Where is it written in the Hip-Hop rule book that we can’t hear a classic Rakim or Intelligent Hoodlum joint on the radio? Not to mention the work of underground artists in ‘hoods across the country who are hungry to speak Truth to power.

We need a Black History Month Radio Rebellion to demand change, and there is no better time than right now! We need to use our cells, Twitter, e-mail, etc. to tell radio station programmers that we want to hear something other than what they are currently force feeding us.

Sadly, like the Jim Brown character told Ving Rhames in the underground movie, Animal, “being stupid is a choice, too.” Some people actually like sitting in the back of the short school bus and will entirely miss the point.

But as A Tribe Called Quest said on “Jazz:”

“I don’t really mind if it’s over your head/ ‘Cuz the job of resurrectors is to wake up the dead.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website at www.nowarningshotsfired.com, or on  Twitter (@truthminista).

  • rep87

    THIS ARTICLE IS RACIST AT BEST THE SO CALL POWERS IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUISNESS ONLY WANT TO PLAY IGNORANT IMAGES OF PEOPLE OF COLOR AND AHH IS GUILTY OF THIS AS WELL THOSE IGNORANT RAPPERS GET MORE PUB THAN ANY RAPPER WITH A MESSAGE WE HAVE ALOT OF EDUCATED BLACKS IN THIS COUNTRY AND DOING GREAT THINGS BUT ITS CRAP LIKE THIS THAT YOU ALL WANT TO MAKE ALL BLACK MEN AND WOMEN BE A PART OF AND THATS A LIE WE ARE DOCTORS LAWYERS AND THE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA THATS PISSED OFF A CERTAIN SEGMENT OF AMERICA   SHOW US BLACKS WITH PHD DEGREES SPOT LIGHT THE POSITIVE BLACK PEOPLE  / AT EVERY TURN AHH LOVE TO SHOW THESE BLACK EXPOLTATION MOVIES AND THESE LAME RAPPERS WITH NO TALENT / THOSE WHO CONTROL HOLLYWOOD ARE RACIST AND THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT THE BLACK YOUTH TO LOOK UPTO DRUG DEALERS GANGSTRS KILLERS AND ITS SAD 2012 AND RACISM IS STILL BARING ITS UGLY HEAD HOLLYWOOD IS LOSING MONEY NOW THESE RECORD LABELS ARE LOSING MONEY RAP MAGAZINES ARE GONE THE INTERNET KILLED IT FOR THEM BOOTLEG MURDERING THEIR POCKETS/ GOD IS GOING TO DESTROY THESE WICKED EVIL PEOPLE AND IF JAY Z DONT WAKE UP THOSE ROLLING WITH HIM SHALL PARRISH ALONG WITH THE REST OF THESE DEVILS

    • watchoutnow111

      Dude, don’t you know that writing in all caps, with no punctuation, and no paragraph breaks makes people not want to read your post. You just wasted time and energy.

      • Yeah I agree, but bear with it and read it. 70% of what he said has truth in it.

      • rep87

        you read it dumb azz

    • Benjidoggy

      is your period button broke?

      • rep87

        i dumbed it down for you

    • Breakdabars

      This is the truth … they accept money to give these dumbass rappers pub. This site use to be so beautiful not even the editorial section is becoming stupid

    • Casor_Greener

      Your post is a prime example of the problems in our culture.  You spoke knowledge but shrouded it in so much ignorance that most people won’t catch it.

      Next time try typing like a regular human being.

      • rep87

        you must be a scared uncle tom you dont know when your being disrespected you the type that they love they can piss in your face and tell you its raining i dont BOW DOWN TO RACIST AND COWARDS LIKE YOU AND THE RACIST  COWARD WHO WROTE THIS ARTICLE  IT WAS DISRESPECTFUL WE HAVE GOOD AND BAD BUT ITS ONLY THE BUFFONS THEY LIKE TO SHOW AND YOU MUST BE A BUFFON AND YOU CANT BE HUMAN AMEN RA TO THAT BOY

      • SharksBreath

        You know who usually type in all caps. Republicans. They do it all the time on every political board.

        Why. Because they are ignorant. Your not bowing down. Your just showing ignorance knows no skin color.

    • Hell Yeah! ( Maybe? )

      Step Ya’ grammar game up!

      I agree with your point , but others may miss it completely. Language is a tool , keep your blade sharp.

      Din’t muttor , bukuz as ling as forzt , mudkle aid lost letaz air in ploce , tee bruin woll aetou mitecally cureck the spueling & dinskrumble it.

      Punctuation too.

    • TruthNoLieB

      Typing in all caps is a sign of mental illness.

      • SharksBreath

        Or being a republican. Which means you suffer from a mental illness.

  • Roberto Ciamora

    When it was his turn to speak, he just walked over to the podium, told the sound man to pump up the local Hip-Hop station, and yelled “Booyah!!!” before leaving the stage, confident that he had proven his point…
    ^^^^^^^^^

    I dont care how racist it is, thats funny!!!

    I can picture the first song coming on being Lil Wayne or summin and dude walking off stage with an ear to ear smirk on his face

    • Which is the point of the article , showing the two fold impact of a self fulfilling prophecy , through pre programming , as well as the international portrayal of blacks overall, within the confines of a specific stereotypical image.
      “O-DOG”
      “Nino Brown”
      “Birdie**” from ” Above The Rim ” …starring Tupac Shakur
      Dough Boy / Ice Cube – Boys In The Hood  

      In fairness , things never worked out well for the Bad Guys in those movies, but in RAP? ,  the bad guy never gets caught , unless he’s about to drop an album.

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  • water_ur_seeds

    nice article… intelligent rap is out there, as is dumb rap, whether it be from black, white or hispanic rappers… hasan salaam, jedi mind tricks, kam, the coup, immortal technique, dead prez, ras kass, akir, lowkey, logic, mic righteous etc… theres dumb and intelligent people from all races… and just incase people havnt realized THE PRESIDENT IS BLACK lol Which makes the smartest person in the world a black man!

    • Roberto Ciamora

      Ypu have to be a complete idiot to think the president is “The smartest man in the world”

      The President is a team mascot and nothing more……. Ronald Reagan was an actor, and during most of his last term had alzheimers and could barely read his pre written speeches the right way, lol

      Not dissing you but C’mon son, the President is a glorified Puppet who answers to other people, always was, always will be

      • Like the Manager of Burger King??? As opposed to the Franchise Owner?

    • Keith Brickz

      obama is the smartest person in the world? thats proposterous…where do you even get that logic from…the us president is automatically the smartest person in the world? how do you figure that? so i guess bush was the smartest person in the world when he was president? see the flaw in ur argument? not only is obama not the smartest man in the world, he’s a puppet working for corporate america, a follower not a leader

      • WurS: “THE PRESIDENT IS BLACK lol Which makes the smartest person in the world a black man!”

        K.Brickz: “..obama not the smartest man in the world, he’s a puppet working for corporate america, a follower not a leader.”

        I actually agreed with both of you until you two said these things. 

        Dumb v.s Ignorant

      • water_ur_seeds

        guess neither did you… i knew as i was typing it people would not get it lol

        take a look a george bush, quite possibly the dumbest person in the world, who was us president

      • Keith Brickz

        who’s the ignorant one? obama is exactly what i said he is, do ur research

      • water_ur_seeds

        guess you didnt get the joke in the ‘obama’ line lol

  • Keith Brickz

    yes

  • Brian Andrew Smith

    ok, ive tried to find anything about this author and his book.  cannot find it anywhere.  Anyone have a link or something, because without any reference I am suspect of the first part.  Can someone help me out?

    • Casor_Greener

      It’s a made-up story my dude

      • Brian Andrew Smith

        good to know i wasted that time.  I figured it had to be considering how ridiculous it was to begin with.

  • Brian Andrew Smith

    ok, ive tried to find anything about this author and his book.  cannot find it anywhere.  Anyone have a link or something, because without any reference I am suspect of the first part.  Can someone help me out?

    • same problem I had. Also the Darwin reference was flaud. Darwin believed all people ( and creatures) came from the same origin

  • Vikram662

    It almost seems like a lot of them CHOOSE to be uneducated or at least come across as uneducated.

  • at the end of the day you could have a college degree a phd but if you lack common sense you still a stupid muthafucker… street niggas got more common sense then these book educated niggas why you think most rich successful people come from the street? jay-z 50 cent lil wayne i could go keep going im pretty sure none of them are book educated…

    • Casor_Greener

      lol, for every ONE “Jay-Z” there are THOUSANDS of highly successful black people who aren’t on TV. most of them went to college…..

    • afroking

      you sound like an idiot.  If that’s the case why isn’t Beanie Siegal Or Free Way rich?  You wanna know why?  Because they couldn’t adapt and grow as artists and as men and stayed with that dumb gun/drug/keep it real bullshit and Jay grew and made moves like a grown man should. 50 is a very smart businessman and he got that way from reading up on business and learning from other successful people. 

      And oh, most rich successful black people come from college and not the streets.  The only reason you cosign what you do is because you only see successful black people on TV who are entertainers and not doctors, lawyers, CEO’s and more. 

  • TruthNoLieB

    It’s funny. I did a google search and I can’t find a single book titled ”
    Blacks Are Dumb…Get Over It!”… Whoever wrote this article is a complete fraud… 

    • BuckFuddy

      LOL. I did the same thing and couldn’t find it either.

  • TruthNoLieB

    FRAUDS !!

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  • IDK about if the debate was true but it’s a great article

  • The Greeks killed philosophers constantly , so there is no way they could be the fathers of philosophy.

    “But as A Tribe Called Quest said on “Jazz:”“I don’t really mind if it’s over your head/ ‘Cuz the job of resurrectors is to wake up the dead.”>>>>Should have dropped the video & dropped Material Love? off the edutainment.Missed opportunity?What’s up with some Jasiri X features? Some underground Hip Hop for black history month , in your column?Some body has got to show RADIO how it’s down!Down Tha Charts : Krs-One ( Boogie Down Production Crew )Youtube it!>>>>On to the comments:

  • P.S. : Propz on another great article!

    • TruthNoLieB

      How is this a great article ? They MADE UP THE ENTIRE DEBATE… Google the authors name and the name of his book, you can’t find it anywhere. It’s completely made up.

  • Darwin J. Watson = James Watson , Nobel Prize winning scientist , ( 1962 ) who cracked DNA code & said Blacks are less intelligent than whites.

    Eugenics, etc? 
    Scientifically advocated Blacks intellectual inferiority. 

    • TruthNoLieB

      James Watson NEVER went by Darwin J. Watson. I can’t find that anywhere. And, as much of a racist piece of s*** he was he never wrote a book titled “Blacks Are Dumb…Get Over It!”, let alone a best seller by that title. Why can’t people make their point without completely fabricating something ? It’s irresponsible journalism, fraud actually. THIS HURTS THE CAUSE.

      • James Dewey Watson , Dewey James Watson , “Darwin” James , after Darwin ( Of Darwin’s Theory ) , * Charles Darwin / Evolution , nicknamed acquired from saying Blacks evolved stupid.

        Were bred stupid, if anything?

        Made up story? Maybe , maybe not , just the fact that it is believable  , to any degree , is an accurate portrait of a sad state.

        Imagine if it was Waka Flocka he put on? SoulJah Boi? etc.

        Jay Z even , the imagery portrayed internationally , is that , well , we not that smart…unless we chose to be , then success is defined.

        Getting richer is measured in paper acquired , as opposed to good deeds being done. Souls get sold.

  • Keith Brickz

    Yes…yes they are

  • we definitely are not STOOPID lol but we have been “playing possum” entirely too long – unfortunately, we sold our souls and bartered our RICH history to become “REAL NIGGAHS” and the crazy thing is we perpetuate the stereotypes over and over on our ownselves … HISTORY proves why COINTEL-PRO was initiated, what the danger of crack cocain can do to a generation but we still glorify it to no end almost 50 yrs later.  We know the image portayed in the media is as lopsided as KEITH BRICKZ forehead but we do nothing to combate that … our elders educated our parents generation but some of our parents failed us as a whole – yet in still, my generation wont take it upon ourselves to break that cycle.  It’s easy to say these “youngsters” aint doing it right but without a REAL blueprint on how to be a REAL MAN/WOMAN than that leaves them to draw their own conclusions on how life should be.

    • Preach ON!!!!

      >>>>>>Passes T-Liners to KB

  • NDTX – tell the moderators let be back in

  • pablokhan69

    There is a truth to a degree about our or should i say some of our peoples stupidity… after all we been threw 400+ years of slavery 200+ of racial abuse; And some choose to play Coon.. and the way they feel affirmed is thru the cult of personality (THUG) as a measure of respect.. I see some of the Suburbanian Blacks come out from a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home both parents working food on the table clothes (latest fashion at that) computers, and actual unity of concern from the home… These idiots run out and want to be Jeezy? 50 Cent? Gucci Mane… Gucci Mane wow!!!! and the real question is why.. is it because TV (Tell A Vision) is telling them this is what We as White people want and respect? is it because the young ignorant girls or boys and nowadays (another topic) make it seem kool.. or is it something primal or strategically programmed either way when i get frustrated with my races lack of unity and maintaining of integrity brothers like Cornell West, Tavis Smiley, Dick Gregory, show that we just have to keep balancing out the scale of the yin and yang of our people and our cultures   

    • Television = Tells Lies To Your Vision

      Self Perpetuating image? ( THUG )
      Back then , the thug was safe in the hood. The wolf , as opposed to the bread. ( FOOD )

      Sometimes , they did what they had to do to survive. To eat. Which ended up looking cool to someone who couldn’t survive & eat….or survive & eat as well?

      A slow runner ( Marathon ) overtaking a face runner ( Sprinter ) in the race of life. ( Geek who went to college & got beat up /mugged vs thug who hustled , beat up & mugged geek. ) 20 yrs later? Who wins?

      Sometimes both lose in the hood.

    • AlbertoRipRon

       You just can’t blame young folks b.  Older generation people are stagnant.  Cornell West is stagnant.  Dick Gregory is stagnant.  Tavis Smiley is limited to books, lectures and his show.  We need a universal leader.  Not just someone in one zone.  Back then peeps wanted to be Kool G Rap.  This crap didn’t happen over night.  Since the fall of our black leaders, it has been going down the tubes.  So to just blame the young ones is, IMO, just ignorant and not accepting that we had fault in this too.  The older generation supported this just as much as the younger generation.  Bridge the gap b.  We can’t just not listen to our young ones and judge from a mountain.  We have to understand them so they can understand us.  Communication b.  The enemy always wins with the divide and conquer strategy.  We need to look at where WE messed up at, so we know where to connect the missing links (and how to) and where to go from here.  Black folks really need to start studying Jewish People.  For real.

  • AlbertoRipRon

    National black pride has been lost to having the new 2012 whip, to starring in their own reality show, to making an appearance on youtube…even to our leaders.  We have no one out there willing to face death, hatred and opposition-to gather up this great race and tell them, we can do better!!!

    Where are the fighters?  Where are our leaders who are unflinching, who attack on all fronts, not just want makes headlines (ahem, jesse jackson and al sharpton, I’m talking to you)?  Black folks need a national voice.  We need the spirit of Malcolm X to return to us, for real.  We could use his leadership.

  • Jamare English

    Wow. This is just ignorance perpetuating ignorance. And that’s all I see in the ‘hood. People conscientiously making the decision to be ignorant. Because it’s not cool to read, or do well in school, or be an actual musician in the ‘hood. Musically, we have the richest history of any people, from Miles Davis to John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Teddy P, Prince, Michael, etc… These are actual musicians! Look at what we promote today, Future, Lil Wayne, Asap Rocky etc… What is that? They can hardly speak, let alone perform actual music! Hip hop is no longer a music genre, it’s a fashion show. For 90% of “artists” the art is long gone. Relative content disappeared in the 90’s. And I’m not sure if any of you are actually aware of the process of making a hip-hop track today as an artist. I’m going to lay it out for you:

    Step 1: Get music someone else made.
    Step 2: Find words that rhyme. 2-3 Verses and a Chorus.
    Step 3: Spend 14 Hours in a studio that costs 2800.00$ a day to drink, smoke and maybe record 8 bars.
    Repeat process until budget is gone.

    If you’re a singer:

    Step 1: Look good.
    Step 2: Get music someone else made.
    Step 3: Have someone write a song for you. (96% of the time, Steps 1 & 2 are combined)
    Step 4: Record. Just get somewhat close with your pitch when “singing” the song.
    Repeat process until you have 3 singles and 9 other .99 cent downloads…

    This is the process used by 90% of Hip-Hop “Artists”.

    This isn’t the only part of the process though:

    A&R: Get on YouTube, search for Beyonce covers with 100,000 views, Boom: Next artist.
    Engineer: Get your boy to hit Apple + Spacebar, make it ear piercingly bright & as loud as possible.

    But this is all a product of what we purchase and promote.
    There’s a lot of music out there and to think that an entire race is relegated to listening to one type is ridiculous.
    And we can argue about who’s got bars and how “their words are their music” all day, but in it’s simplest form, it’s elementary. And that’s why we hear the music we do on Hot 97.

  • I aint readin this shit..is u crazy?!

  • Keith Brickz

    the short answer to that question is YES, YES THEY ARE!

  • Big Ice Bastardman ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Hahahhaha. The counter argument to “black people are stupid” is “black people are geniuses and invented everything.” 

  • I’ve been reading a lot of these messages and most of you make good points. I just wanted to add my two cents, if I may.

    You see, a lot of people don’t realize that “We” are being brainwashed by the powers that be. Our music is polluted, because all the music that we digest (for the most part) comes from one stream…the mainstream. 

    Allow me to break this down simplistically:

    There are only FOUR, yes FOUR major distribution companies in the world. Which are:
    EMI, Universal, Sony & Warner. What that means is that every major record label whether it be Bad Boy, Def Jam, Cash Money, Interscope etc. is a subsidiary (kind of like a child to a parent). And what do children have to do to there parents for their days to be longer (for those that read the Bible)…….Exactly! They have to obey!

    It is very systematic and yet very simple all at the same time. You see, if you want to be heard on the radio or seen on the T.V you pretty much have to be “affiliated” to a major. There is no way around it. When was the last time a DJ broke a record from a unsigned artist? I thought so! Now these corporations have an obligation to turn a profit to their shareholders. So what do they do? They flood the market with so much uninspired, “Mickey Mouse”, drivel with the hopes that something connects with the ever so fickle hip-hop consumer.

    I browse youtube daily for my dose of which is now considered “classic” hip-hop and I read the comments all the time: “I’m 15 and I love this kind of music! or Why don’t I hear this on the radio?” It’s because most people in the music business; some which by the way have no business expressing their opinion on the genre, have their own agendas and will not sacrifice their “paycheque” for the sake of not having the artform compromised or losing it’s integrity.

    THERE ARE NO LEADERS!!!

    90% of these artists are sellouts. Trust me! They will lead you all a stray. That’s why you have to take initiative and create your own balance and don’t be afraid to say something is wack, even though your friends are rocking to it. I love ignorant hip-hop just like the next man/woman, but too much “junk-food” is not good. Don’t get me wrong, if I were in their position I may/may not do the same thing!

    POVERTY!!!

    With a large majority of the black community living within poverty and not having many avenues out the situation, a lot of our brothers and sisters become aspiring rap artists. The problem with that, the craft gets abused by either people who really don’t give a crap about the music, don’t know the legacy or use it as a hustle. Poverty and under educated people are exclusive, but are not always far from each other. With that being said, you have artists that are desperate to get on and will say anything to get on. Add to the fact that these folks are uneducated and rap for a segment of our community that are uneducated. We have corps. that are only promoting what they think “WE” want. We have “leaders” that won’t step up to the plate!

    Where does this leave us?

  • As consumers we should excersise the right to control the flow of and the taste of music that is put out.  until this is understood, we’ll keep getting this bullshit that people call the hottest new thing since toilet water