N.W.A. or NAACP? Burying the "C" Word

"And the things we write are always true / Sucka, get a grip, now we're talkin' about you." - Stetsasonic, "Talkin' All That Jazz"Every family has an Aunt Ruth, the Sista who shows upat every funeral dissin' everybody who walks in thechurch. Unlike your other pompous and overlypretentious family members, "Ant" Ruth keeps it real.If it wasn't for her, you wouldn't have known aboutUncle Clarence's chick on the side or that prim andproper, Aunt Hazeline was a superfreak back in thaday. I can see Aunt Ruth at the National Associationfor the Advancement of Colored People's "mock" funeralfor the "N" word as the NAACP dignitaries do thefuneral march to greet the mourning Hip-Hop family.She would be in the back pew, rolling her eyes,sucking her teeth and whispering. "Them bougie n***as"ain't never liked our family, no way!"Let's get this out the way from the jump. I'm not downwith using the "N" word and frankly, if I was rollin'through tha hood and saw the NAACP scrappin' with GUnit, I'd just grab a big bag of chips and a Big Gulpand watch. However, in wrestling terms, this is morelike a triple threat match between the old schoolCivil Rights Leaders, the commercial "gangsta" rappersand the Hip Hop activists all vying for the covetedWorld Championship of Black Culture.It's a tough question but someone has to ask it...Isit really fair to come down on tha Brotha's for usingthe "N" word, when in 2007, you still refer to Blackfolks as "colored people?"Is there a real qualitative difference between thename N.W.A. (N****a With Attitude) and the NAACP? Iguarantee you that most rappers will not put up halfthe fight over the "N" word as the folks in the NAACPwould if folks demanded that they take "colored" outof their title.While many can trace the history of Hip Hop from itsSouth Bronx origins most people are totally obliviousto the history of the NAACP. While many peopleautomatically assume that it was always a "Blackthing", in reality, the first members of the NAACPwere white, including the early presidents. Also, theintegrationists of the NAACP fought against the selfempowerment movement of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.Although many people argue (and rightly so) thatcorporations have ruined Hip Hop, it must be statedthat white philanthropists/corporations have alwaysinvested heavily in the NAACP from its inception untilthis very day and as the old saying goes "who everpays the piper picks the tune." I find ironic that themost notorious "gangsta" rapper, 50 Cent is promotingbottled vitamin water while the NAACP promotesAnheuser Busch, the company responsible for the "hood"drink King Cobra Malt Liquor.So, commercial Hip-Hop and the NAACP have a lot incommon. The NAACP had a white man as its firstpresident and Hip-Hop had Vanilla Ice. Many of theWest Coast Rappers repped St. Ides while the NAACPrep's Budweiser. The rappers drink Moet and Hennessythe NAACP gets money from Moet Hennessy USA. Hip-Hopheadz give R. Kelly video awards and the NAACP givesR. Kelly Image Awards for songs like "I Wish) thatdropped the "N" bomb a couple of times. Not to mentionthe remix that set a new world's record for "N"bombastic in 2001.While some old heads may not understand the "stopsnitchin' code" in Hip-Hop, it must be noted that theBlack Community's hatred for rats is rooted in theactions of people like the former chairman of theboard of the NAACP, Joel Spingarn, who according to anarticle in the March 21, 1993 edition of the MemphisCommercial Appeal, started spying on the NAACP for theMilitary Intelligence Division during WWI.While some may see this article as another attempt athip hopapologeics, it is not. This is an attempt toexpand the dynamics of this country's long awaited"great conversation on race" that was supplanted by a"weak conversation about the evils of Hip-Hop." Whatcould have been a discussion about anything rangingfrom white male dominance in the media to thehistorical disrespect of black women quickly devolvedinto a weak, long drawn out discussion about rappersand dirty words.What is most disturbing about the post Imus anti-Hip-Hopism is that a movement to give Black children ananalysis of Hip-Hop by activists of their same agegroup was hijacked by Civil Rights activists trying toprove to white America that they were still relevant.Don't get it twisted; a Black leader is only as goodhis number of constituents, either real or imagined.That's is why some of them feel the need tocontinuously hold march after march after march.The one great equalizer of the universe is TRUTH, noone is above it ; no one is below it. This TRUTH is adouble-edged sword, it cuts on the right and the left.Should Black people refer to themselves as the "N"word. No, but we ain't "colored" either.Should rappers be criticized for their actions? Sure,but we also need new Black leadership.Should we be having a conversation in 2007 about theeffect of Hip Hop on Black children? Of course, but asimilar critique of the NAACP is about 90 years pastdue.So, as the NAACP carries out its burial of the "N"word, let us remember the saying "TRUTH crushed to theearth shall rise again."TRUTH Minista Paul Scott is a writer and activistbased in Durham, NC.