A Response to
Minister Paul Scott:
Whites Do Matter In Hip Hop

With the attack on the World Trade Center almost one year ago, with thousands dying a terrifying death at the hands of murderous terrorists, it would seem imperative for us as people here in America to just forget our "issues" and come together. As the Hip Hop generation, we should be even further along this route than others…even in the face of ungodly, wicked police brutality in Inglewood, we can join together to still resist racism. And yet, I feel "Minister Paul Scott" wants to divide people. I'm not trying to debate this man, he comes across as a very intelligent person, and I would most likely lose any formal debate with him within minutes. But, what I did want to do is just mention a few things that hopefully will give another viewpoint. We DO need to get along, and I don't believe that to do that we must have a separate nation within America made up of only one race, just because some people gave up on the Dream…

>>Rollin' down the street, one evening, I heard the familiar boom of a car stereo pumpin' a Mannie Fresh/Hot Boyz track. A glance at the car pulling up next to me revealed a white dude giving me that "what up" head nod that is usually reserved for brotha's.<<

Question: So now, if you're not African American, you can't even nod your head to another person in saying "what's up"? I don't understand, since I see people of many nationalities do that to one another every day all around me. From Asian people saying what's up to one another at the gym, to people of all colors at high schools and colleges saying what's up with a head nod to one another. Plus, I still see a "what's up" head nod as a good sign- It means someone's cool with you and doesn't have hate for some reason. I'd much rather see people of various races greet one another with a "watzup head nod" then the middle finger. Yet, Paul Scott feels this is wrong.

I guess, while everyone else of various nationalities moves on into the new millennium as the Hip Hop generation, us white people still have to be stuck in the 80's. We gotta have long blonde hair and a Hawaiian shirt like Sean Penn's "Jeff Spicolli" character from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". And, our only option on how to say hi to anybody is STILL to go "Hey dude, totally gnarly!!", like one of the Ninja Turtles, flash a "Hang Loose Hawaii" hand signal, and drive away playing Van Halen in the stereo of our "Town and Country Surf Designs" painted Volkswagen Bus. Maybe then, Minister Paul Scott will finally be satisfied that us white people are "in our place" style-wise, however cliché'd, restricted, and outdated that "place" might be.

It's 2002, Mr Scott, and Hip Hop music is worldwide, not nationwide…WORLDWIDE. Hip Hop started in Brooklyn and the Bronx, but it's now in Tokyo, Hamburg, London, Sydney, Moscow, AS WELL AS… San Jose, Dallas, Minneapolis, Portland, and all over the US. … and people here in the U.S. of ALL racial descents (Samoan, Hispanic, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and even…yes, even white…..do and will listen to it, and maybe even contribute to it.)

>>>I gave him a friendly Black Power fist and drove away. I have had that experience many times before and just shrugged it off but I had just watched the latest police brutality video earlier that day and I just wasn't felling all that cross cultural.

It was a police officer who committed that crime against a teenager…NOT some kid in his car listening to Mannie Fresh beats I feel you're being a little hard on someone for trying to do something positive and basic as saying what's up. That goes back to the comparison between a "what up" head nod and a middle finger as different "greetings". To an observer, this was a positive (what's up head nod) that received a negative/get-out-of-my-face/you're not cool with me reply . In the context of what you described in this exchange, this is how I read your flashing of a black power fist, not as much of a "Pro-Me" symbol as an "Anti-You" symbol.

>>>Integration versus segregation has long been a debate in this country among black folks and white folks as fist fights have broken out on both sides when someone was called a nigger lover or an Uncle Tom/Oreo, one too many times. During the Civil Rights Era many in the Black community began to equate FREEDOM with Integration and saw them as inseparable concepts.

I didn't grow up in that era but I've learned some things about it and I feel it got people past some of the problems of the 50's and 60's and the rest of America's troubled past. I will admit that I need to add to my general knowledge and read more about the civil rights movement.

>>>The media characterized the integrationist, at worst, as a good hearted, yet unrealistic dreamer, but demonized the Black segregationist as an evil, militant hate monger who hated all white people and sober minded negroes. While the black segregationist wanted the right to self determination and felt that this could only be achieved by Black people doing for themselves and worst case scenario, establishing a sovereign nation within a nation, the integrationist felt that even the worst racist, white supremacist was acting out of ignorance and if they could just get to know us, they would eventually love us and share all of the wealth and privileges which they had accumulated from slave labor and other forms of exploitation.

I understand the issue he has in the above paragraph, and that he used the term "worst case scenario"…that I can recognize. But, according to the above description, that means he would classify Dr Martin Luther King as an integrationist, looking for people "to be able to join hands". If that's true, I would rather identify myself with the ideals of Dr King. I will admit that I probably could read and learn more about the civil rights movement of the 60's. However, I feel from my own experience that for most people times have, for sure, changed.

>>>While neither option was really acceptable to white America, they accepted the integrationist dream as the lesser of two evils because at least that option included white folks at the center of every discussion while the Black separatist left them totally out of the equation.

Once again, Dr Martin Luther King didn't seek a separate nation for African Americans so that "white folks could finally be left out of the equation"-He envisioned a different society. As a Christian, I chose to place myself on the side of Martin Luther King. I can hear some saying "Well, of COURSE you do, you're white" etc. and I know some will feel that. But, with me, it has more to do with the words of Jesus Christ than the color of my skin.

>>>Today the debate can be carried over into the realm of Hip Hop as many see the fact that white teenagers are getting caught up in a virtual reality 'hood that this is somehow a sign that Dr. King's "Dream" has come true.

I'd say that friendships among different races, the multiethnic workplace (as seen in the San Francisco Bay Area), and also love and marriage of people of different races are all more significant signs of this. We have a long way to go, but….Teenagers and young adults listening to KMEL as they drive to school are not necessarily in a "virtual reality hood". They're just listening to music they like.

>>>The white fascination with Black culture goes back well before Rap music as the earliest white Rock and Rollers would try to imitate black folks on Saturday night at the Sock Hop by letting their hair down and "getting a little funky."

Yes, only, back then, it was the Racist White Southern Conservatives who opposed this the most vehemently. It was the racist KKK oriented people who said they didn't want "white teenagers lowering themselves to the level of the common nigger" (I remember that quote almost verbatim from a History of Rock N Roll documentary on PBS, and it still gives me the chills.) Now, in 2002, it seems Minister Paul Scott wants to join the ranks of those folks by being STILL mad at Bill Haley and the Comets, Pat Boone, etc. The early 50's Rock n Roll did offend a lot of people, many for religious reasons (they thought the beat and dancing was sinful, including many African American church folks of that day as well) but it did a lot for at least a basic joining together of teenagers.

>>>It was during the 70's that some brotha told Wild Cherry to "play that funky music white boy" and it was not until years later that I found out that the Sara that Hall and Oates were trying to get to smile had blue eyes and blond hair. So, integration has long been acceptable on the dance floors of American Band Stand and Solid Gold, it is the other areas of society where the problem lies.

Now we get to the 70's, an important decade. And, while Paul Scott feels still upset over Wild Cherry's "Play that Funky Music (White Boy)", he leaves out so many other more important artists of the 70's and early 80's…

The Average White Band, Bob James (one of the most Hip Hop sampled artists ever), Teena Marie, Bobby Cauldwell ("what you wont do for love") ,the integrated bands of various races like Sly and the Family Stone and War. He leaves out those specific artists like Herbie Hancock/ Headhunters drummer Mike Clark, Sly's drummer Greg Errico, and the importance of songwriter Rod Temperton of Heatwave. Or we can go into the 80's with the Tom Tom Club, and synthesizer players like Steve Cox of the Dazz Band or "The Doc" who played with Prince. There's a lot more artists than some might remember.

Plus, the 70's one hit wonder "Play that Funky Music" is a type of a self-depracation on "white boys" anyways, but for the most part, it's not that deep of a song-it's a simplistic disco/funk dance track with basically meaningless lyrics. I would say people like Bob James and Rod Temperton are a lot more worth talking about.

Which leads to Hall and Oates. For all the "blue eyed soul" comments of various people, for the most part, they were excellent songwriters. Example- Go pick up a "Best of the Dramatics" CD that has the song "Do What You Want, Be What You Are". Roll down the windows, turn up the car stereo, and cruise to this smooth, funky 70's soul classic. Then pull out your CD liner notes as the song fades out and look who wrote the song. Darryl Hall and John Oates. They were R&B songwriters first and foremost before they were pop stars.

>>>The message that white folks are giving is that we will party with you and even dress like you (like we are going to some costume fantasy ball) but when the clock strikes twelve, your BMW turns into a bus pass and I get in my Volvo and drive home to my cottage in the 'burbs . And on Monday morning, go back to my job on Wall Street and you go back to sweeping trash off of Main St. While integration may have crossed the Soul Train line, it has not crossed the line of social, economic and political equality.

Davey D, I realize that there's inequalities still in the working world. But, there are many, many African American professionals all over the work spectrum who are most def' NOT street sweepers. These are educated, hard working, and innovative people who are working in computer companies, hospitals, police forces, college faculties, military technology, Fedral, state, and city governments, and various media outlets. These African American professionals, I feel, are being sold short by "Cinderella" type metaphors as seen above.

To say that EVERY African American in America is a street sweeper is really showing Mr Scott ignoring reality in favor of sensationalism. By saying "you go back to sweeping trash off of Main St.", he disses the many African American professionals who most definitely do NOT sweep streets for a living, many of whom I have worked with as managers and supervisors in marketing agencies, computer companies like Hewlett Packard, and as intergral members of a University staff..

Plus, we're in one of the worst recessions the U.S. has faced in some time and people of all races right now are just trying to find ANY job,…ALL races included. His "Street sweeper" claim was not based in statistics or reality, from what my experience has been. Maybe if Minister Scott got a chance to leave Durham, North Carolina for a while and visit cities like Sunnyvale, San Jose, Berkeley, or San Francisco, he might change the "street sweeper" assumption.

Also, if it's not Halloween, then you can usually assume that if someone's wearing something, they feel they look good. They wear those clothes that think reflect something about them. If someone goes to the "Mr Rags" store at the mall and gets clothes from Ecko, Phat Farm, Encye, and them…they're just clothes. Aint no Fantasy costume ball, it's just clothes. I see all races in those stores buying the same things at the same time. Yet, why is it that some people want to claim "FASHION LABELS" as property of one race? Why is it that suddenly German made clothing labels like Adidas or Puma are suddenly the exclusive property of those who are any race BUT white?

Plus, it isn't like Tommy Hillfiger was trying to be down with African American youth who were giving props to his clothes in raps during the 90's. It's not like Tommy, in thanks for the free advertising, gave back to the community by opening "Tommy Hillfiger Urban Youth Centers" Getting mad and saying Caucasian people think they're in a costume party because they wear the clothing of the new millennium seems unfair. Once again, everyone isn't "Jeff Spicoli". Everyone isn't going to want to be like "Dude, Where's My Car". Allow some diversity among Caucasians in your mind and then look more objectively at people as a whole. Your stereotypes are very narrow and outdated. Black people have moved on from "Good Times". Let white people move on from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"…it's 2002, homie.

>>>Someone said that over 70% of Rap music is purchased by white people. While this may not raise a red flag entertainment wise, it is disturbing from a political point of view. What is disturbing is that we have packaged and sold a warped idea of Blackness and while the idea of "thuggism" may be embraced by both Black and white children, the concept is marketed to white children as a fad that they will out grow but marketed to Black children as a way of life. As the white child has the luxury to change clothes, go off to an Ivy League School and later inherit the family business, the masses of Black children will have no such luck and will follow that lifestyle to the prison or to the graveyard.

Here is where I agree with Minister Scott. in some regards. I feel this is a more serious thing. Thuggism is really, really dividing some people and it's really a trip. For all the commercial aspects of it, and all of the marketing of music as a product, we can't forget that music is emotional. And when people are listening to the music of C-Bo, Brotha Lynch Hung, and other rappers who are talking anger, evil, violence, and killing in every rap, it's going to start to effect their attitudes. Not ALL who listen, but many. And since most issues between people originate with someone's attitude, often, it gets out of hand. In my particular neighborhood, which is off Winchester Blvd in San Jose, a racially mixed area, it seems some of the people most susceptible to that attitude are Latino dudes.

I mean, it's cool to be macho, you know? Sometimes situations in life call for us as guys to show some macho, to show some toughness, to stand up and show some testosterone. But, when you're starting to spend time in baggy jeans and a "wife beater" shirt, flexing in an aggressive stance, leaning to the side, snarling, flexing your muscles and aggressively staring down any other dude who walks by…IN the Produce Section of Safeway(!!?? )

-well, homie, you gotta problem. You as an individual have not learned what situations in life call for machismo and toughness, and what situations call for you simply to be a functional person in society. You haven't yet grasped when toughness and bravery are called for, and when it's time to simply, flat-footedly walk to the grocery store and get some green onions and celery for your wife so she can cook dinner. You don't need to go into the restroom of Safeway and scratch "Loco XIV- all suckas must die" into the bathroom wall before leaving. It's just a trip to Safeway. It doesn't need to be a "Gangsta" trip to Safeway. Safeway isn't exactly gang related territory, dog.

But I feel that these people have somehow misinterpreted what Hip Hop as a culture is supposed to be about. The same scene can be played out in San Jose at the Laundromat, the mall, the gas station, the post office, the light rail station, etc etc. Too many kats walking around not knowing how to chill out and just be a regular person. Thuggism is stressing a lot of people out, but it seems some of those stressed the MOST are the ones who are trying hardest-to BE the hardest. Thuggism is having a negative effect on ALL races, white included. I've even had wak, trippy, fake tough white dudes in t-shirts that say "Pimp Daddy" come up to me in (yes, once again!) Safeway, and try to snarl in my face for no reason at all, and then get behind me in line mean muggin. What the freak??

I feel that people of ANY race that do these types of things… 1. Need God in their lives, and 2. Really and truly lack any understanding at all of what Hip Hop is supposed to be all about.

Some of these "Safeway Thugs" need to eject the C-Bo tape for a little while and go drive to Tower Records and buy "the Best of Con Funk Shun", or maybe "Earth Wind and Fire-the Ballads", or something! I think for those people, that will actually teach them a lot MORE about what Hip Hop is about, (and what African American people in general are about) than buying the newest "Bay Area Hustlaz" compilation. As much as they can learn about the issues of the ghetto from a rapper like C-Bo, I think they need some balance- to chill out, relax, and get real.

>>>This is also problematic in the area of Conscious Rap. I have heard it said that some concerts by conscious rappers are mostly attended by white kids. Here's another one, Davey D. I have to ask- WHO'S FAULT IS THIS?? I'm sorry to say that I feel, unfortunately, the answer is- African American young men and women of concert-going age.

Let me mention something about Conscious music. I was at the SOFA music festival in San Jose a few years ago. It's an outdoor afternoon music showcase where 5 blocks of downtown S.J. get blocked off and stages are set up for different bands/groups to perform live. One of the groups performing was Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. (you might have heard of them-Karl Denson just put out his first CD on Blue Note, but he was previously down with Greyboy and the whole Acid Jazz scene)

That band threw down! They were up there bringing Funk, not just Jazz, but FUNK. I'm talking like they did "The Grunt" by the JB's, dropped James Brown funk slices, all that! I'd say there were like 8 musicians on stage and at least 6 or 7 of the people up on stage were African American. They were doing fonky flute solos along the lines of "Dazz" by Brick, drum breaks, wah wah guitar, all that! This stage was set up right near the entrance of the festival. So I'm there, nodding my head, and I just happened to look around the crowd, and I noticed that….there were almost NO African American people in the crowd. Out of like 75 people, there were maybe TWO African American folks, and they were in their mid 30's. (Most of the crowd was Latin) There were a lot of African American young people at the FESTIVAL in general, for sure but- trip on this…

I saw like at least 20-25 times, African American guys and ladies in their early 20's walk in, look up at the stage while Karl Denson's band was funkin',…and just walk off. No expression on their face, no "whoa, that's tight!", no recognition of those jams, and no break in their stride, Davey D. They gave a passing glance towards the stage with a blank "Who cares" expression like they were looking at a blank piece of paper as they walked off. I remember kind of tripping, thinking "Where are y'all going? This is the Jam! I don't get it!" I continued on seeing the rest of the program, and then left to walk around the festival some more with the girl I was with, hyped about the funky program I just witnessed. But in my head I was slightly wondering "Where were all those African American, Hip Hop generation young people going? They totally rejected the Funk!! I don't get it! Where were they going?"

You know where they were going, Davey D? I found out. TO THE CLUB! Seems the Beehive was open that afternoon for a special one time only daylight session, and there, in line, were all those African American college age peeps I saw walk past the Funk like it wasn't there. They were all lined up to get into the BeeHive to dance to Puffy and Mase, CamRon, Little Kim, and whoever else was at the top of the commercial rap charts then (this was a couple years ago)

I can't help but think- here was conscious music right in their face. James Brown breakbeats. African American musicians playing FUNK! They already paid to get in to the festival! They could do whatever they wanted. And those African American college age folks decided that THE CLUB is where it's at. That's one example that happened in one city, I know, but it might prove a point.

Therefore, in my opinion, if the Roots or Mos Def comes to your area, and you as an African American young adult don't buy tickets or show up, that's on YOU! Come on, Minister Paul Scott, white people didn't "SELL OUT" the ticket booths at those shows you talked about! You know there were still tickets available. And, if African American young peeps stayed home because they heard "There's gonna be a lot of white boys there, I bet"…Then they aren't really FANS of Conscious Hip Hop to begin with. If The Roots or Common is your favorite rapper/group, you aren't gonna care WHO'S in the audience. It could be 500 Middle Easterners with turbans on yelling "Hooo!". If you're down with OkayPlayer and all that, you WILL GO to the Roots show, or the Black Eyed Peas, etc. If you don't go to those shows, but spend 50 bucks in one night going to three different clubs, then maybe you don't WANT to be conscious, you know? Or, you do, but you haven't given it consideration yet. But, to blame white people for showing up to a rap show, or to say that since white people showed up, it's somehow a "problem" with conscious hip hop- nope, that's not the issue. The issue is who's willing to support Conscious hip hop when it's live and who aint trying to care. Just an observation…

>>>The question is, at what point do you get too black for even the most liberal minded white people? Our people are in dire need of the TRUTH, some of which may be too much for white folks to handle or fully grasp the meaning. Even though some intellectual white folks will deny this, there are some things that you cannot learn from buying Public Enemy's Greatest Hits and reading the Source, every month.

I don't think there's much ANYONE can learn from reading The Source every month. As much political information Chuck D brought in the 80's, I still don't think that's the truth that can transform people. The Bible, the word of God, is Truth, I believe in that Word as Truth. I think there's a WHOLE lot more you'll get from that than you will The Source magazine.

>>>As Black people there are still some issues that we need to be able to discuss, straight up without referencing each statement with "it's not a black thing, it's not a white thing" or "I'm not trying to be racist but…."

I have no problem at all with this statement. But…(see next comment)

>>>Within the broad dimensions of Hip Hop, there needs to be a Black Consciousness Movement. As Marcus Garvey once said Race First and Africa for the Africans, someone must be bold enough to say in Rap music; Race First and Hip Hop for the Afrikans! That does not mean that Hip Hop must be totally isolated from other cultures as African people have long freely been willing to teach all those who were willing to learn, even to our detriment. But as it is said no one is going to save Black people but Black people and that must be instilled in the hearts and minds of our children.

I guess it could be said like this. Hip Hop is WORLDWIDE. I still every day see people of different races and cultures choose Hip Hop as the common ground they both have. I still see Asian American dudes come up to Latino dudes and say "whatz up, dog",with that famous head nod. Could this mean, in some way, that these are now "Brothas" of some type??…I myself have heard and seen Korean rap groups with frizzed out hair like Bone ThugsN'Harmony, Japanese MC's, world famous Filipino DJ's like Q-Bert (whom you may have heard of), and others with ancestors from all over the world.

Yes, Hip Hop, especially in the 80's, stood for overcoming oppression and overcoming racism. But to adopt the segregationalist viewpoint cuts someone off from another who, yes, in some way shape or form can benefit you. Like you said Minister Paul, "African people have long freely been willing to teach all those who were willing to learn"…if this is the case, I'd say you've laid out a choice, Minister Paul.

It's undisputable that African American people from New York City are the inventors of Hip Hop. Therefore, AS the INVENTORS of Hip Hop, you can choose to use it to say… 1. It's a black thing, you wouldn't understand
2. It's a black thing, and I want to MAKE SURE you DO Understand!!

I don't know who that kid was who was next to you at the stoplight playing some Hot Boyz tracks with the booming bass. I don't know if he was a legit hip hop fan or just some nerd kid who would have been nerdy acting no matter what color he was. Maybe he was another "Safeway Thug". But the thing is, you can't tell that from one "what's up" head nod. It's possible that, in some way, he's just trying to be cool with someone else. And sometimes, just the basics of "what's up man, I'm in a good mood and I'm cool with you and it's all good" can help out a lot. We have enough problems getting along in society from people dissing one another because they're fat, they're "broke", they got "nasty teeth", they're out of style, or for some small, intangible reason, they just don't fit into your "clique". This is wrong. yet…people get singled out and rejected all the time, and sometimes the reason isn't so up front as someone's race. Sometimes people get pushed to the side and rejected for reasons even the one rejecting isn't fully trying to articulate. But, Hip Hop can in some ways get us past this, if we chose to use it to do so. I can't think of too many other ways a dude who's parents were from Mexico could in any way culturally relate to a dude who's parents are from Taiwan, unless Hip Hop was a common thread. One may have been born with the Chinese language, the other born with Spanish, but now, they both have a common non-verbal communication, a what's up head nod, that just bridged continents. If that can bridge continents, can it get us in America past OUR PAST??

>>>Some days, even I may feel a little can't-we-all-just-get-along-ish and watch a Brady Bunch marathon while N'Sync is playing on the radio.

Either one would make me sick.

>>>But most days I just want to be Black and that is good enough for me.

God created us to be who we are, so as you know, God is all good with that. PEACE


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